My Lords, Amendment 35 seeks to put in the Bill a requirement for the Secretary of State to undertake a review of tenancy deposit schemes. The purpose of the review is to ensure that tenants are treated fairly at the end of their tenancy.
The Housing Act 2004 required every landlord or letting agent who takes a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy to join a tenancy deposit scheme. The scheme was subsequently amended by the Localism Act 2011. The tenant pays over a deposit, which is usually one month’s rent, when the tenancy agreement is signed, and within 30 days from receipt of the deposit the tenant has to be provided with the details of the scheme that is being used. If at the end of the tenancy there is no dispute, the deposit is returned; otherwise, the two parties can go into a dispute resolution process and are bound by the decision with no redress to the courts. Alternative processes can be taken through the courts but there is an underlying problem, in that the tenant is often at a disadvantage where they have paid a deposit and need to access that money to put down as a deposit on the next property they are seeking to rent.
This amendment would allow for a review to take place to see what can be done to level the playing field somewhat between landlords or letting agents and tenants. One of the things the review could look at is the viability of zero or no-deposit schemes run by insurance companies or some other mechanism. This is an area where tenants can be put at a disadvantage and it needs looking at. I beg to move.