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Tribunal wins for private tenants show powers of new rules (Part 2)

James Mullaney
Written by James Mullaney

Following on from our First-tier tribunal blog earlier this year, there have been further tenant success stories showing renters the benefit of using the tribunal if their landlord, or agent, is falling short.

These decisions have also highlighted some important points to remember for those renters who are considering applying in future.

Landlords must lodge all tenancy deposits with an accredited scheme

Gone are the days when landlords could take a deposit from a tenant and keep it until they decided, or refused, to return it. Now all deposits paid by tenants must be placed, by the landlord, into an accredited tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days.

A private renter in North Lanarkshire raised an action when they discovered their landlord had failed to lodge their tenancy deposit in a scheme until 6 years after their tenancy started. The landlord argued that, because the new rules on lodging deposits within 30 days came into effect after the tenancy commenced, the rules didn’t apply in this case. The tribunal didn’t accept this argument though – no matter which year a tenancy began, all deposits should now be lodged in a scheme within 30 days of the tenancy starting.

The tribunal awarded the renter £1300, in addition to the amount returned by the tenancy deposit scheme.

Remember to tick the relevant boxes when applying

Another recent case raised at the tribunal, highlights that renters can take action if their home falls below the repairing standard.

The tenant had applied to the tribunal following a number of disrepair issues with their landlord however, had not ticked all of the relevant boxes on the form to highlight which areas of repair she was applying for help with. Thankfully, on this occasion, the tenant had included enough additional information for the tribunal to see that the disrepair issues went far beyond those identified by the boxes ticked.

Following an inspection and hearing, the tribunal issued a Repairing Standard Enforcement Order (RSEO), concluding that the following should be repaired or replaced:

– windows including French doors which were not wind and watertight

– rendering in poor condition on the outside of the building

– a defective smoke detector

Finally, the landlord was ordered to address the issue of condensation and ventilation, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom, and get an updated energy performance certificate.

If you have problems with a letting agent you can take action

A former tenant raised an application with the tribunal recently following a dispute with their letting agent. This centred around how the agent had dealt with disrepair issues in the property before moving out. The tribunal accepted the renter’s case that the agent had not followed the Letting Agent Code of Practice in several areas. The agent:

  • had not informed the tenant of the action they intended to take, likely timescales or explain any delays
  • accepted that one of the repair jobs had not been completed to standard but had not followed this up with additional repairs
  • hadn’t provided an inventory to their tenants (under the code they are also required to send reminders to the tenant if they do not return a signed copy of the inventory)
  • hadn’t dealt promptly with disrepair issues (the tribunal found “avoidable” delays in arranging work)
  • hadn’t made the tenant aware of the Code of Practice when he moved in (a requirement of the code itself)

These decisions highlight that poor practice by letting agents and landlords can successfully be challenged by tenants.

If you want to take a case to the tribunal, there may be local help available to complete the application form, support you at the hearing or even speak on your behalf.

Interested in hearing more about tribunal cases? Join us on 20th March for our annual PRS conference. Tickets are free for private tenants!

If you’d like to share your experiences or thoughts on private renting more generally why not join our forum: https://Privatetenantsforum.scot