Anti-deposits campaigning agent Ajay Jagota says the 2004 Housing Act - which actually came into effect in 2007 - may now have outlived its usefulness because it requires every deposit to be placed it in a tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days.
The Localism Act 2011 extended the registration deadline to 30 days and amended the 2004 act by introducing penalties for late registration and for non-compliance even after the conclusion of the tenancy. The 2011 measure also gave courts the discretion to make awards to successful claimants less than the original level of three times the deposit
The high profile Superstrike v Rodrigues court case created additional confusion, says Jagota. This was the case stating that for tenancies which began pre-April 6 2007 and became periodic after 6 April 2007, for which a deposit which was not protected, landlords or agents may not have been able to issue a Section 21 notice.
The Deregulation Act 2015 amended the Housing Act 2004 further to clarify that if no details of the tenancy have changed in such circumstances, the original tenancy deposit scheme remains valid.
“The Housing Act has been altered so fundamentally over the 10 years since its introduction it has become a Frankenstein’s monster of a law and it is hard to dispute that the act has outlived its usefulness, assuming it ever had any. The act was designed to keep landlord-tenant disputes out of the courts. Ironically repeated court cases have been necessary to clarify what it actually means” says Jagota, who runs D-lighted, a no-deposits scheme.
Jagota says deposit disputes have worsened in scale, with new figures showing disputes between tenants and renters almost doubling in a year, with deposit clashes the second biggest cause of disagreement.
“Since government plans to cap deposits are likely to necessitate yet more running repairs on this decade-old act, would now not be the ideal time to scrap the act altogether and to introduce something more relevant to the needs of property renters and property investors of 2017?” he asks.