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BLOG: Rental deposits have come a long way in FIFTEEN years

MD of the DPS Matt Trevett recounts how his organisations has played a leading role in developing one of the major reforms of the private rental sector.

Matt Trevett

matt trevett dps deposit protection image

It is fifteen years since the government introduced compulsory rental deposits protection for all new tenancies across England and Wales, requiring landlords to ensure that they protected rental deposits with a Government-approved scheme.

The DPS took its first deposit that day, and I remember the point soon afterwards when deposits started to arrive daily.

Since then, we have grown to administer more than 1.8m deposits on behalf of around 2.3m tenants and more than 200,000 landlords and letting agents.

Our mission is to uphold the principle of transparent deposit protection, making it as easy as possible for landlords, agents and tenants to use our service, and we’re achieving that goal.

Disputes

The introduction of deposit protection also led to the creation of free-to-use, evidence-based dispute resolution services (DRS) involving independent legally trained adjudicators to resolve disagreements between landlords and tenants about deposit deductions.

The independent processes of DRS also counter against any perceptions that landlords are unjustifiably retaining deposit money.

While it’s hard to understand the extent of the issue prior to 2007, we know that fewer than 3% of tenancies linked to deposits safeguarded by The DPS end in a dispute.

Rental deposits

Some of the biggest changes since 2007 have involved digitisation and the evolution of a 24/7 society, which has impacted the way tenants, landlords and the public operate.

And we receive and repay deposits every minute of every day via our website; our systems never take a day off.

But like most businesses, we have adapted our ways of working as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Our online systems, backed by being part of the global Computershare group, were able to cope with the curve balls thrown by the pandemic, and our 150 staff members were able to staff the phones and provide support for our users from home from the outset.

I am immensely proud that throughout the subsequent two years of lockdowns, vaccine roll outs and various restrictions on meeting in person, The DPS has continued to deliver a strong and stable service to all our users, and deposits remained protected and repaid.

Modern society

Looking ahead, it’s essential that the PRS can meet tenants’ demands – and that the standard of rented accommodation meets the expectation of a modern society.

The DPS works closely with landlords, letting agents, tenants and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to help shape and successfully implement changes that impact the sector including, for example, our support for the changes laid out in the 2019 Tenant Fees Act which adjusted deposit limits to meet new thresholds.

This year’s Queen Speech outlined several initiatives likely to impact the PRS – including the introduction of a national landlord register — and in so doing, underlined yet again the pivotal role that renting continues to play in the UK.

As before, we’ll be taking part in any consultation that follows the speech and look to work with others to see that changes to the industry best serve all parties.

Most importantly, our focus is on ensuring that the core principles of transparent, free, and easy-to-use deposit protection remain as important in the future as when The DPS formed – all those years ago.

Matt Trevett is MD of The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS)

This is shortened version of an article that will appear in full in the July issue of The Negotiator magazine.

June 9, 2022

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