Clause 19 - Tenancy deposit requirements

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 28 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 9:25, 28 Tachwedd 2023

It is a pleasure to continue our proceedings with you in the Chair, Mr Gray.

Clause 19 makes a number of amendments to chapter 4 of part 6 of the Housing Act 2004, the effect of which is to ensure that the requirement for landlords and letting agents to place deposits in a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme is maintained in relation to new assured tenancies and tenancies that were assured shorthold tenancies immediately before the extended application date. Currently, any section 21 notice served on a tenant may be invalid if the deposit requirements are not adhered to, but the clause will ensure that, if landlords take a deposit and do not fulfil the relevant statutory requirements, they cannot be awarded a possession order on any of the grounds set out in the amended schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988.

On the surface, the clause appears simply to apply the existing tenancy deposit requirements to the new tenancy system that will apply whenever chapter 1 of part 1 of the Bill comes into force. However, there is an important difference between the requirements, which speaks to our wider concern about future landlord compliance with the regulatory obligations that have developed around section 21 notices over the course of the 35 years in which the present tenancy system has been in place. We will explore those wider concerns in more detail when we debate our amendment 176 to clause 34.

With regard to tenancy deposit requirements, the main difference between how the relevant protection rules apply to the existing system and how the Government propose that they will apply to the new one is that, under the Bill, they must be adhered to before a court will award possession, rather than, as now, when a notice is served. Put simply, instead of the landlord having to protect a deposit within 30 days of receipt and provide the prescribed information about how that will be achieved before the notice is served, the Bill will allow them to do either of those, or return the deposit, at any time up to the court hearing date.

From a tenant’s perspective, that situation strikes us as a less stringent application of the requirements than we currently have in relation to assured shorthold tenancies. Taken together, amendments 170 to 172 would ensure that landlords must protect deposits with an authorised scheme and provide prescribed information in connection with it before a notice for possession is served rather than doing so, or repaying a deposit, at any time up to a court making an order for possession. I hope that the Minister will consider accepting the amendments.