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Court awards maximum compensation to tenants for landlords' deposit failings

View profile for Joanne Ellis
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You may be aware that for the last 6 years, any tenancy deposit paid to a private landlord for an assured shorthold tenancy must be placed into one of three government tenancy deposit schemes. Generally speaking this applies to deposits paid for assured shorthold tenancies that began on or after 6 April 2007. It can also apply to deposits paid before this date where the tenancy has been renewed (but that's a debate for another day).

If a landlord fails to pay the deposit into one of the tenancy deposit schemes then a Court can punish the landlord by requiring them to pay their tenant three times the value of the deposit in compensation.

There are few, if any, reported cases on this particular issue. That is until now. Last week Edinburgh Sheriff Court ordered a landlord to pay his former tenants three times the value of their deposit. Andrew Meehan was ordered to pay Ross Fraser and Alison Pease £3,450 after he failed to protect their £1,150 deposit.

Although this is a Scottish case and therefore not in any way binding on Courts in England and Wales, it is certainly in my view at the very least persuasive that Judges south of the border should be making similar awards. After all the legislation gives Judges the power to do so.

However, in reality I believe Judges would only be persuaded to award the maximum amount of compensation where a landlord has failed to protect the deposit altogether. A landlord who protects a deposit late may be more fortunate

By Mark Pimblett, housing law team