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How long should tenant deposits take to return? Minister asks for your views

James Brokenshire wants to know what letting agents think of deposit passporting services and deposit alternative schemes, and how deposits could be returned to tenants more quickly.

Nigel Lewis

tenant deposits

The Government is asking for the views of letting agents on whether it should introduce a time limit for tenants to receive their tenant deposits back after ending a tenancy.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire says he wants to make the process of returning tenant deposits to tenants ‘much smoother’ and prevent tenants having to provide a second deposit when moving home while waiting for their original one to be returned.

The Minister’s call for views is accompanied by analysis of data from the Deposit Protection Service, which Brokenshire says suggests that on average tenants receive 77% of their deposit back and 51% of tenants have their deposit returned in full.

Brokenshire also wants to know what agents think of the handful of initiatives, including deposit alternative products and passporting services such as those offered by Flatfair and RentalStep, are working or whether the markets could offer ‘improved products’.

Struggle

“It can take too long for some tenants today to get their deposits back when moving, and where tenants need a deposit for their new rented home, some will struggle to afford it,” he says.

“Some of these tenants risk falling into debt or ultimately finding themselves unable to move from their current home.”

The minister last week said he would consider setting up a mandatory national passporting system, and since June last year a working group set up by Brokenshire has been looking at the wider issues of deposit affordability including deposit replacement services.

This is due to report in the Autumn, when the online consultation will also end.

July 5, 2019

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