Activists group Generation Rent is urging renters who have renewed their tenancy but not moved since May 2019 to check if their deposit is worth more than five week’s rent.
If it is, the group claims the difference is defined under the Tenant Fees Act as a prohibited payment, which a landlord must refund if asked.
The Tenant Fees Act made most fees to tenants in England illegal in June 2019, and placed restrictions on other charges made by landlords and letting agents. This includes the security deposit for a new tenancy being capped at five weeks’ rent.
According to Freedom of Information requests to the government, submitted by Generation Rent, the average deposit value before the cap came in was £1,108 and this fell to £1,025 in March 2021.
However, the activists claim that if there had been no cap, and deposits had increased at the same rate as rents in those two years, this figure would have been £1,138 - some £113 more than the actual average.
Comments by the Baroness who is director of the group, Alicia Kennedy, suggests this is a bid to stiffen up the provisions for so-called lifetime deposits, advocated by the government and set to be introduced via a White Paper this autumn.
She says: “It is good to see that the Tenants Fees Act is having a positive impact in reducing tenants’ costs of moving home. If you’ve signed a tenancy since June 2019 and paid more than five weeks’ rent as a deposit then you are protected.
“But deposits remain a large barrier to moving, making it hard for tenants to move out of an unsuitable property and putting tenants who face eviction at risk of homelessness. Renters who lack savings need a way of transferring their deposit from their current tenancy to the next one without being ripped off with a poverty premium.
“As the government finalises its Lifetime Deposit proposals it must standardise and speed up the deposit disputes process, which currently allows unscrupulous landlords to waste tenants’ time with spurious claims.”
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