Landlords are well aware by now of two of the tenancy deposit schemes namely Deposit Protection Service and My Deposits. Perhaps slightly less know amongst landlords but widely used by agents is the third tenancy deposit scheme operated by the Dispute Service. This scheme mainly catered for agents but landlords of a corporate nature (£100k + deposits) were accepted usually on a bespoke pricing structure. There was no way for a regular private landlord to join and use this scheme.
Earlier this year though, the latter mentioned scheme launched Deposit Guard which allows only landlord members of the RLA to obtain deposit protection at a fee less than My Deposits but this still required an annual fee of £75.00 (for RLA membership) on top of the protection fee. (Using DepositGuard saves £1.50 on the protection fee, see below).
What I didn’t know until an email from a prospective new member the other day is that the Dispute Service now also offer deposit protection directly to landlords at substantially less cost than My Deposits. Not only is the protection fee cheaper but also quite remarkably, there is no annual or joining fee whatsoever. I must confess as we had emails going backwards and forwards, I had difficulty in believing all of this but I’m happy to report it’s true!
Whilst looking into this, I’ve also looked at their rules which have been completely overhauled since I last had cause to look at them. It must be said in the past, this scheme had some very onerous rules but they seem to have mellowed out a bit now and the new rules are quite different. All the schemes have some odd parts to their terms but this scheme does have one particularly strange requirement in that it’s commonly accepted that if you do a renewal tenancy, then a new protection fee is payable but if you leave it to roll onto statutory periodic, no fee is payable. Well, that remains true with this scheme but they regard any “material change” as a renewal?
We know that a mere rent increase does not create a new tenancy and certain things like changing the fixed term, changing people or the property is a new tenancy but under their rules the position is different. Under the rules, any “material change” is “at which point the tenancy will become a Renewed AST for the purposes of these Rules” Rule 7.6.1 Tenancy Deposit Scheme for Landlords Membership Rules January 2012. A rent increase is regarded as a “material change” according to the rule, therefore, if a landlord increases the rent even without a new tenancy (via a section 13 notice for example) then a new protection fee is payable. This begs the question as to what else is a material change? For example, if pets are prohibited but then changed to be allowed, is that a material change? If it is (and there seems no reason why it wouldn’t be) then, a new fee is payable despite no new tenancy being granted. I thought this was worthy of comment as I foresee a few getting caught out with this one.
The rules of the scheme require that very specific clauses are inserted into the tenancy agreement (quite why I’m not sure and none of the other schemes require this) so an ordinary standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement is not suitable for this scheme. In addition, in order to comply with their rules, you must use the prescribed information that they provide.
Many of you will be aware that we were unable to provide a tenancy agreement for use with this scheme previously because the prescribed information they “insisted” on being used did not comply with the The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 (for more information on this see our article about the Dispute Service prescribed information here).
The new version produced by the scheme has been drastically improved and only a couple of minor amendments are needed now which will make it just fine for inclusion with our agreement.
A suitable agreement including all the special clauses for landlords only is available here.
If you are a member of the RLA you can use DepositGuard. Or, you can join for £75.00 per annum which will save £1.50 on the protection fee.
Costs via DepositGuard
|Deposit Value||Annual Fee||Charge (inc VAT)|
|Up to £500||£75.00 (for RLA)||£15.00|
|From £500.01 and over||£75.00 (for RLA)||£22.50|
Costs direct with TDS
If you are using The Tenancy Deposit Scheme for Landlords directly with TDS, then there is no joining fee and you simply pay for the tenancies you protect. The cost per tenancy agreement is;
|Deposit Value||Annual Fee||Charge (inc VAT)|
|Up to £500||Nil||£16.50|
|From £500.01 and over||Nil||£24.00|