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Issue Date:- 7 April 2008

Tenants set to benefit from nearly £2.5 million interest

THOUSANDS of tenants in England and Wales will be just under £2.5 million better off, thanks to new compulsory tenancy deposit protection legislation.  Since 6 April 2007, every deposit-taking landlord and letting agent in England has to use one of two tenancy deposit protection methods, a custodial or insurance-based scheme, for any new or updated ASTs.  According to The Deposit Protection Service (DPS), the only Government approved custodial scheme, tenants and landlords will be on the receiving end of £2.5 million in interest as the tenancies currently protected by the service come to an end.  The DPS works by holding a tenant’s deposit, free of charge, for the term of the tenancy agreement. At the end of the rental period, the deposit, and a portion of the interest it has accumulated, is paid back to whoever is entitled to it, tenant or landlord, depending on the condition of the property and the terms of the rental agreement. The remaining interest is used to fund the service.  “Prior to the new legislation, it was very rare for tenants to receive any interest on their deposits.  Many landlords and tenants were left out of pocket by either rogue landlords failing to return deposits or rogue tenants disappearing leaving unpaid rent. The DPS guarantees to return the deposit to the person entitled to it, which is a win-win for everybody in the rental sector.” said Kevin Firth, Client Services Director for The DPS.

Reflecting on the 12 months since the legislation came into force, Kevin states that initial take-up of the scheme has been incredibly encouraging.  “Alongside protecting deposits submitted by some 84,000 landlords, The DPS has also worked with some very large letting agents who have acknowledged its transparency and tenants’ preference for having their deposits protected by a trusted 3rd party.”

Out of the total £2.5 million in accumulated deposit interest, The DPS has already returned payments of more than £200,000 following the end of tenancies during the past 12 months.  The scheme has protected a total of approximately £185 million deposits, equating to more than 250,000 rental agreements. The DPS has also successfully introduced an effective dispute resolution service. “We encourage landlords and tenants to seek mutual agreement on the return of the deposit, but recognising that this is not always achievable, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service has been introduced,” Kevin says.  “Feedback on the ADR process has been very positive, with both tenants and landlords welcoming an independent ruling on whether there is any factual or contractual basis for retaining all or part of a tenant’s deposit.”

Of the deposits protected with The DPS just 40 cases have needed to be resolved through ADR and only 3 disputes have been resolved through the county courts.  “While we receive around 200 new registrations from landlords and agents each day, The DPS has anecdotal evidence that there are still a large number choosing to ignore the legislation, either by not taking deposits or putting the deposits in their back pockets.  There is simply no excuse for these landlords burying their heads in the sand and failing to abide by the rules, not only is it against the law, but it also means that tenants are not receiving the protection to which they are legally entitled.  Having said that, landlords doing the right thing are becoming extremely comfortable and familiar with the service as they experience a few tenancies end to end.”  commented Kevin.

Quick facts:-

· Over the year, The DPS has protected approximately £185 million of deposits, which equates to 250,000 deposits.

· More than £2.5 million of interest has been accrued and £200,000 paid out to either the tenant or landlord, whoever is entitled to the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

· The number of landlords using the service is currently more than 84,000 and the number of agents is approximately 8500.

· Of the 43 cases requiring adjudication, only 3 have gone to the County Court, whilst the DPS’ impartial adjudication service has dealt with the rest

· Since the launch of the scheme, The DPS has received around 200 new registrations by landlords and agents each day.

Abseil down the Liver Building for arthritis charity

PEOPLE of Liverpool are being asked to be brave this year to help arthritis sufferers. Medical research charity, the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC) is organising an exclusive 200-foot abseil down the north face of the city's Royal Liver Building on the weekend of 21 June to 22 June 2008.

ARC is looking for more than a hundred daredevils to take part and help raise funds for vital research, much of which is taking place on the doorstep in Liverpool.

arc’s area appeals manager, Ruth Owen, who is organising the event, has been impressed with the response received to date:- “We have promoted the abseil in a limited number of places so far and have already received great interest.

I’m sure the limited number of places we can offer will be snapped up quickly so we will have to allocate places on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

This really is a great opportunity to abseil down one of Liverpool’s, or for that matter, Britain’s, most famous and iconic landmarks.

We feel very privileged to be able to offer such an exciting event this year and are very grateful to the Royal Liver Group for their support in agreeing to the abseil.”

Pictured is Frank Hill, abseiling instructor from Abseil UK, who will head up arc’s team of professional instructors to assist charity abseilers taking part.

Further details, including a free information pack on the abseil, can be obtained from Ruth by phoning 01492 518760 and on 07736 157800, or by email.

Abseilers are being asked to raise just £200 each in sponsorship in support of the charity.

All profits will be invested in arc’s research and programme into all forms of arthritis, including almost £1m supporting research at the University of Liverpool and University Hospital, Aintree in Fazakerley.

The Royal Liver Building abseil is just one of a number of events organised by arc.

Further information on less daring events are obtainable from Ruth, who is also looking for people to walk for arc in this year’s Wirral Coastal Walk on Sunday, 18 May 2008.

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