Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Landlords targeted by 'no win, no fee' lawyers

Landlords who fail to full comply with the Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) law could face a claim for compensation even if their tenants' deposits are fully protected.

TDP schemes have been subject to a growing number of information requests by 'no win no fee' claims companies targeting landlords on behalf of tenants, according to Carolyn Uphill, chairman of the National Landlords Association (NLA).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 You and Yours, Uphill warned landlords In England and Wales to ensure that they pass on important information about where and how any deposit is protected – known as the Prescribed Information – to the tenant within 30 days from the start of the tenancy.

Failure to do so could lead to heavy penalties and claims companies seem to be inviting tenants who haven’t received their prescribed information to make a claim against their landlord – even if the deposit is protected.

Uphill said: “You have to ask where the financial loss for the tenant is. The majority of tenant’s deposits are being protected and 99% cent of tenancies end without any issues over the return of the deposit. Where problems do arise, the tenant has access to a free and impartial decision using the scheme’s dispute resolution service.

“Of course, where there is blatant disregard for the law landlords can have no argument and must be brought to rights. However, these claims firms are looking to exploit those landlords who have protected their tenant’s deposits but may not have properly issued the prescribed information.

“In practice this could simply mean not providing their tenant with a leaflet about where the deposit is protected.

“This sort of action is morally questionable, unnecessarily punitive and will only work to undermine the good relationship that exists between the majority of landlords and their tenants”.

Eddie Hooker, CEO of Tenancy Deposit Scheme My Deposits, said:

“It has always been the landlord’s responsibility to protect the deposit and a vital part of the process is to pass the Prescribed Information on to the tenant.

“Landlords must be aware that they are ultimately responsible even if they use a letting agent. Our advice is to check with your agent or directly with your deposit protection scheme to ensure all of your deposits have been properly protected.

“Those who fail to comply with either step of the legislation leave themselves open to potential fines of up to three times the deposit value and could fall prey to these kinds of claims companies.”