Hopefully those lettings agents and landlords reading our blogs are already familiar with the requirements relating to tenancy deposits, including the need to provide tenants with deposit prescribed information within 30 days of receipt and protection of the deposit monies. What is sometimes overlooked however are the circumstances in which this deposit prescribed information must be updated and re-issued.
Simply put, the deposit prescribed information needs to be updated if there is a ‘material change’ to the tenancy agreement which affects the manner in which the deposit is held and/or the information provided. Circumstances which would constitute a material change are as follows:
- Change to the person/s forming the tenant
- Change to the person/s forming the landlord
- Change of deposit protection scheme
- Change of tenancy/property address
- Change to deposit sum
If one or more of the above situations occurs, the deposit protection certificate and prescribed information should be amended to reflect the change and re-served upon the tenant/s within 30 days. If this is not done, a valid Section 21 Notice cannot be served.
PainSmith commonly come across this issue in the context of changes to landlords, whether it be transfer of ownership through sale of property or through death. The case of Sebastiampillai v Parr (first blogged about in 2019) provides clear guidance on this matter. In this case, the landlord’s claim for possession failed because the landlord who had purchased the property with the tenant in situ had not supplied updated prescribed information reflecting the change. In making this determination, the Judge reflected on the ultimate purpose of deposit prescribed information and expressed that ‘parties should have the information they needed to contact each other to resolve disputes.’
Landlords inheriting or acquiring tenanted property cannot therefore rely on the previous landlord’s compliance.