Understanding the Deposit Protection Service Single Claim Procedure
When a deposit is received for an assured shorthold tenancy (England) or occupation contract (Wales), it must be protected in a government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme within 30 days.
There are two types of deposit schemes: insurance-based and custodial. The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) offers landlords a government-approved custodial deposit scheme free of charge.
The crucial difference between custodial and insurance-based schemes is that the custodial scheme holds the deposit money during the tenancy. In contrast, insurance-based schemes are held by the landlord unless a dispute arises.
This article will focus on the case where a tenant abandons the property or is uncooperative regarding deposit return and primarily on the single claim procedure followed by the DPS custodial deposit scheme.
For the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), the following steps will occur when a deposit is to be repaid:
- If the landlord agrees to return the entire deposit to the tenant, they will authorise full payment back to the tenant.
- If the landlord wishes to claim some or all of the deposit, a repayment request is made.
- DPS will notify the tenant of the request.
- The landlord will serve a 14-day notice if the tenant does not respond.
- If there is still no response, a single claim commences.
- If DPS is satisfied with a single claim, payment is made to the landlord within ten days.
After logging in to your DPS account and requesting repayment in the usual way, the DPS will inform the tenant (or now ex-tenant) of your request to be paid the deposit. You can view which payments await a tenant's response from the repayment in progress screen on the DPS website.
Wait for a Response
If the tenant does not respond within 14 days, they will be considered absent or uncooperative.
Absent or Uncooperative Tenant
If the tenant is uncooperative and does not respond, the procedures outlined in Schedule 10, Housing Act 2004 take effect, allowing for a single claim to be made.
When Can a Single Claim Be Made?
You may initiate a single claim process if:
- At least 14 days have elapsed since the tenancy ended;
- The landlord and tenant have not reached an agreement concerning the claimed deposit amount;
- The landlord believes they are entitled to the claimed amount for unpaid rent, property damage, or loss of property on the premises (excluding fair wear and tear).
The landlord must have an address for the tenant, as stipulated in the prescribed information given to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.
A suitable notice is available for free on the DPS website. You can serve the notice anytime after the tenancy has ended; there is no need to wait for a specific period before sending it. The tenant must receive this notice via special delivery, marked "to be signed by addressee only." If it is not received, the landlord is considered to have no address for the tenant.
After the tenant receives the notice, they have 14 days to respond. The landlord may start a single claim if the tenant does not reply. The single claim amount cannot exceed the amount specified in the notice.
The Single Claim Application
Once the 14-day notice period has elapsed, the landlord can apply for a single claim. Start by clicking the appropriate link on the DPS website. A partially completed statutory declaration will be sent to you for completion.
The statutory declaration must include details such as the tenancy end date, communication between parties, the basis for the claimed amount, and any available contact details of the tenant.
All supporting evidence must be provided with the application form. As the single claim process is intended to present all evidence in advance, there will be no opportunity to submit additional proof later.
Administering the Declaration
A commissioner of the oath must administer the statutory declaration. Solicitors can act in this capacity, charging a small fee.
Send the Application to the DPS
Send the single claim application, statutory declaration, and all accompanying evidence to the DPS.
What Happens When DPS Receives the Application
Upon receipt, DPS will immediately provide the tenant with a copy of the application and accompanying statutory declaration and notice. The tenant will be asked about their agreement to the claimed amount and consent to the dispute resolution service.
Responses from Tenant
Depending on the tenant's response, the claim will be granted, refused, or partially approved. The remaining disputed amounts may go through the dispute resolution process, with payment made according to the outcome.
Every custodial or insurance-based deposit scheme must provide facilities to resolve deposit disputes without litigation. If both landlord and tenant consent to dispute resolution, the adjudicator will distribute the deposit based on the evidence provided.
If a landlord is uncooperative or absent, the same procedure is available for tenants. The tenant can apply for a single claim, agree to dispute resolution, and provide the statutory declaration and evidence.
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View Related Handbook Page
Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Schemes
Many landlords take a deposit from tenants to hold for the duration of the tenancy. When the tenant moves out, this is returned to the tenant less any deductions permitted: typically for damage (above fair wear and tear), additional cleaning, and cover any outstanding rent. Note: deposits can only be withheld if stipulated what the deposit is being held against in the contract.