We recognise the importance of the private rented sector and the essential role landlords play in providing safe, warm and healthy homes to the residents of Peterborough. We are keen to provide decent landlords operating within the borough with the recognition and support they deserve.
We can offer advice on securing accommodation with a private landlord. We work closely with a number of local landlords and agents who advise us of which properties they have available to rent and we can assist you with accessing this type of accommodation.
In addition, we can help you contact landlords and act on your behalf when discussing fees, deposits, etc as some private landlords will want you to pay a deposit, one month's rent in advance and an administration charge before they allow you to move into the property. We may be able to negotiate with the landlord regarding these fees.
We also offer a rent deposit scheme if you cannot afford to pay, however this is not guaranteed. You will need to confirm your eligibility with a Housing Needs Officer who will advise you as to whether you qualify, as each case is assessed on an individual basis.
Guidance for tenants on renting a safe home is available from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Private rent arrears
If you currently live in a private rented property but are struggling to pay your rent, you should discuss your situation with us as soon as possible. We can discuss the options available to you and try to prevent you from getting into arrears and losing your home.
In recent years, a law was introduced providing protection for tenants by preventing landlords and letting agents from unfairly withholding a deposit. The tenancy deposit protection scheme protects all Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, covering most tenancies since 1997. Tenancy deposit protection was designed to ensure you get all or part of your deposit back when you are entitled to it and any disputes between you and your landlord or agent will be easier to resolve.
If you think that your landlord has failed to protect your deposit, there a number of steps you can take.
If a landlord fails to protect a deposit before a tenancy ends
If your landlord should have protected your deposit, but has failed to do so, the law says that you are entitled to have your tenancy deposit returned. You can ask a court to order a landlord to return your deposit and pay you compensation of between one and three times its value.
A landlord who protects a deposit should also provide a tenant with information about which scheme is being used to protect the deposit. A court can also order compensation be paid to a tenant if a landlord fails to comply with this obligation.
Sometimes a landlord may think they have complied - a postal failure may be the reason you did not receive information sent in good faith, or they may have protected the deposit, but spelled your name incorrectly or protected the deposit in the name of your joint tenant. It's always worth making enquiries to establish the facts before you consider more formal action.
Think carefully about your full position before you take action - your landlord may be justified in withholding your deposit if you have failed to pay your rent or caused damage to the property.
Ask your landlord to protect your deposit
If you are still in your tenancy but your landlord has not protected your deposit, you may wish to ask them to do so. Keep your negotiations polite and give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to respond (14 days should be sufficient).
We have a sample letter which you can use to ask your landlord to protect your deposit which you can adapt it to suit your circumstances.
Commencing a court claim for an unprotected deposit
It's important to gather and review any evidence relevant to your case, as this will help when you take further action:
- your tenancy agreement
- evidence you paid your rent in full
- evidence showing you paid a tenancy deposit
- confirmation the deposit was against damage and loss (rather than rent in advance)
- copies of any letters to and from your landlord
- evidence that the deposit was not protected in a scheme
- your inventory and photos of the property at the end of the tenancy
- anything else that may be relevant.
Letter of intention to commence legal proceedings
If your landlord has not returned your deposit within ten days of your tenancy ending, you can write to your landlord threatening court action.
By clearly showing a landlord that you can prove they failed to comply with their legal obligations- and that you know you can take court action - may convince your landlord that you are serious about recovering your deposit. Your landlord may prefer to return your deposit to you rather than face court action.
Consider if taking court action is your best option
Taking court action may not always be in your best interest. It is only worth getting a county court judgement against someone who has the means to pay it.
Consider carefully if your landlord has any reason to make any deduction from your deposit. If you take your landlord to court, your landlord will have an opportunity to defend the claims you make and may wish to raise issues in defence such as:
- the property has not been left clean enough
- there is damage to the carpets or furniture
- the rent has not been paid in full.
Landlords may try to compensate for the penalty part of your claim by exaggerating their counterclaim so that it is for more than the deposit.
Asking a court to order the return of your deposit
Providing you have sent a 'letter before action' to your landlord and the time limit for a response has expired, if your landlord failed to protect your deposit – or protected your deposit late – you can apply to the county court to order your landlord to refund your deposit to you and pay you compensation.
Court procedures for these types of claim have been set up to be used by people who attend court themselves, so you won't be able to claim the costs of having someone represent you in court. You will have to pay court fees when you apply to the court. It is important to ask the court to treat your case as a 'small claim' to avoid the risk of liability for your landlord's solicitor’s costs.
The amount you ask for will depend on whether you accept your landlord is entitled to make a dedcution from your deposit - for example, for unpaid rent. Mention this in the claim form, say how much you think the landlord is entitled to deduct and limit your claim to the sum of the remaining balance.
Apply to the court using form N208 from the Justice.gov website.