There are two types of Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes - custodial and insurance-based. Any landlord can use the custodial scheme but there are some restrictions on who can use the insurance-based schemes.
Tenants can expect a decision as to how much of their deposit is going to be returned to them within ten days from the end of the tenancy. Any part of the deposit kept back at this stage will remain protected in the scheme being used until such time as any dispute is resolved. The exact arrangements depend on the type of scheme used.
The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) provides the only custodial TDP scheme.
Under this scheme the Deposit Protection Service holds the deposit money in a bank account. When the tenancy ends, it releases the deposit to the person who is entitled to it.
If you are a landlord based overseas, you must use the custodial DPS scheme, unless you employ a UK-registered letting agent to manage your tenancy.
If you use DPS for tenants using a rent deposit scheme (for example, a council pays the deposit) and your tenant leaves, you can agree with the council or third party to keep the deposit in place for the next tenant.
Under insurance-based schemes, the landlord or the landlord's agent holds the tenant's deposit and pays a fee to insure it (against the landlord illegally keeping the deposit). If the landlord doesn't pay the tenant the amount they are owed at the end of the tenancy, the insurer will pay the tenant and try to get the money back from the landlord.
If your tenants' deposits are paid in instalments as part of a rent deposit scheme, you must use an insurance-based TDP scheme.
The only two insurance-based providers are:
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
You can only use the TDS if you belong to an approved professional body - like a trade association - where members must have client money protection insurance. This insurance ensures that any client money held by a business is protected, even if the person or company goes out of business. Examples of approved bodies under TDS include the:
- Association of Residential Letting Agents
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- National Association of Estate Agents
- National Approved Letting Scheme
Costs of using a TDP scheme
There is no charge for landlords or letting agents to use the custodial DPS. The insurance-based schemes MyDeposits and the TDS charge fees for membership and you will also have to pay insurance premiums.
Getting the information you need about the TDP scheme provider
Landlords should find out the following details from their TDP scheme provider:
- name and contact details of the scheme
- contact details for the scheme's dispute resolution service
- how to apply for the deposit's release
- what to do if the landlord or tenant can't be contacted at the end of the tenancy
- how the deposit is protected
Within 14 days of receiving their tenants' deposits, landlords must give this information to their tenants, together with the:
- the address of the rented property and the amount of deposit paid
- the landlord's or letting agency's name and contact details
- the name and contact details of any third party that has paid the deposit
- items or services covered by the deposit
- the circumstances under which the landlord will be able to retain some or all of the deposit
- what to do if there is a dispute over how much deposit should be returned
If your letting agent manages deposits and goes out of business
Landlords are responsible for making sure the deposit is kept safe with one of the schemes even if they use a letting agent to look after the deposit.
The scheme provider will expect you as landlord to pay it back any money it has to pay to the tenant if it is unable to get the money from the managing agent. You should therefore consider what arrangements your agent has made to keep tenants’ money separate and available even if it goes out of business.