The BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours yesterday repeated long-standing criticisms of landlords and letting agents by lobbying group Generation Rent when its presenter Winifred Robinson said the industry has been ‘unfairly holding on to deposits paid by tenants when they move out’.
Generation rent twice last year ran campaigns criticising the way the return of deposits is managed, highlighting the huge upfront cost for some tenants.
You and Yours focussed on another aspect of their campaign; the complaints arbitration process that landlords, letting agents and tenants must participate in when the return of a deposit, or part of it, is contested.
The programme claimed tenants cannot access the information they need to challenge decisions by arbitrators, that the appeals process is ‘opaque’. You and Yours also said adjudications, and the fact that tenants cannot appeal them, ‘goes against natural justice’.
Robinson interviewed a tenant in Bristol who had £700 deducted from her £1,575 deposit after moving out of a rented house after five years, a deduction she contested.
During the programme, the tenant said she was not told how much was going to be deducted from her deposit after the letting agent decided the property and garden needed work, or why the cash was being deducted.
Her deposit was protected by MyDeposits and, after appealing, the decision was referred to an independent adjudicator.
Only after it decided in favour of her agent did she find what she had been charged for, including half a dozen lightbulbs.
MyDeposit’s Chief Executive Eddie Hooker (see left) took part in the programme and defended the result of the case as ‘reasonable and fair based on the information we were given by both the parties’.
“We hold the hands of the tenants all the way through these processes [and] send information through to the tenant on what the process is going to be”.
With impeccable timing given today’s You and Yours programme, MyDeposits rival the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) has appointed Margaret Doyle (see right) as its new external Independent Complaints Reviewer, the first in its industry to do so.
The role of the Reviewer will be to look at the way TDS has investigated complaints about its service in order to ensure that the process has been fair and transparent, and that the issues raised have been properly considered.