Landlords in Dorset are being urged to get their house in order before a shake-up in the law covering deposits comes into effect.
Battens Solicitors is warning them of a requirement to comply with changes included the new Deregulation Act 2015 by June 23 or risk exposing themselves to court action and penalties.
Since April 2007, landlords and lettings agencies have been obliged to secure or register deposits with a tenancy deposit scheme and provide details to the tenant within 30 days of receipt.
Under the new rules, that has been extended to cover deposits taken for tenancies which started before April 2007 and have continued since then.
Battens is holding a special seminar free of charge on Monday June 15 at the Wessex Royale Hotel in Dorchester at 5.30pm to help landlords and lettings agents through the new rules.
Experienced lawyers from the law firm’s property dispute resolution team will be on hand to explain the changes as well as other aspects of the act.
Jacqui Swann, who is an associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in Battens’ property dispute resolution department, said: “Falling foul of the requirement could prove expensive for landlords and lettings agencies.
“Court action by tenants for the return of the deposit and a penalty payment are a real prospect.
“The new law also means that a landlord or letting agent will be unable to give two months’ notice to take back their property if they have not registered the deposit.
“There are other options if there are rent arrears and breaches of a tenancy but the landlord could be subject to a counterclaim if the deposit is not registered.”
Jacqui added: “Landlords should be aware that even though the tenancy deposit scheme sends confirmation to the tenant of the fact that a deposit has been registered, this is not enough.
“Landlords themselves must still send specific information to the tenant. There are penalties for failing to do this.”
A welcome provision of the act is if a landlord registers the deposit when it is first received and gives the tenant the prescribed information within 30 days, they no longer have to repeat that if the tenancy continues after the fixed term or a new tenancy is entered into as long as the landlord, tenant and property remain the same.
To book a place at the seminar or for more information contact Jacqui on 01305 774666, email or visit www.battens.co.uk.