Taking a deposit from a tenant can seem like the sensible thing to do, but fail to deal with deposits properly and the money could be more trouble than it is worth.
If a tenancy commenced after 6 April 2007, landlords are required by law to lodge the deposit in a formal Tenancy Deposit Scheme. In England and Wales the deposit can be registered with:
Once a deposit has been taken and lodged with a scheme the landlord must provide the tenant with the prescribed information relevant to that scheme within 30 days.
Deposit taken but not registered within 30 days
If you have taken a deposit but not registered it in a government-backed deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the money you need to return it to the tenant. Until you do so you cannot serve a valid Section 21 Notice.
Deposit registered but the prescribed information not given
If you have registered the deposit in time but not provided the tenant with the prescribed information relating to the deposit you should serve the prescribed information now.
You cannot serve a valid Section 21 Notice until the prescribed information has been provided.
It is the landlord’s explicit responsibility to make sure all relevant persons receive the prescribed information. If in any doubt whatsoever, check with the scheme what documents to use, serve the documents yourself, keeping good evidence of having done so.
Notwithstanding these difficulties over Section 21 Notices, any deadlines for compliance with the rules that are missed mean that the landlord will be liable to the tenant for between one and three times the amount of the deposit, should the tenant bring a claim, or a counterclaim.