Rental deposit scheme to be backdated?

THE Island’s rental deposit scheme could be extended to cover tenancies that started before the new system was introduced and those concerning non-self-contained accommodation.

Housing Minister Sam Mézec has signed a ministerial decision extending the contract with UK agency Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd, trading as mydeposits Jersey, to administer the Island’s tenancy deposit scheme for a further two years.

And the report accompanying that decision requests that the minister considers potential measures to improve the performance of the scheme.

Since 2015 it has been compulsory for rental deposits to be paid within 30 days of receipt into a bank account held by mydeposits, which offers free resolution services in the case of disputes. The money is held in a third-party bank account for the duration of the tenancy and is then repaid if there are no issues.

The report accompanying the decision says that the Strategic Housing Unit is satisfied that mydeposits Jersey had met the ‘key performance indicators’ set out for it.

It has met its targets in responding to requests and dealing with deposit returns and reviews in 100 per cent of cases so far.

However, the report states that there are still ‘small amendments’ that could be made to improve the scheme.

‘Firstly, the tenancy deposit scheme currently applies only to tenancies entered into, renewed or varied after 2 November 2015,’ it adds.

‘The arrangements do not apply to tenancies that commenced before this date, so not all tenants benefit from the protection the scheme provides. It may be appropriate to make the tenancy deposit scheme retrospective and apply it to tenancies that commenced between May 2013 (when the Residential Tenancy Law came into force) and November 2015.

 

‘Concern has also been raised about the protection afforded to people who live in non-self-contained accommodation. This type of tenure is not covered by the Residential Tenancy Law, so it is not included under the tenancy deposit scheme. As such, there is a concern that some people who pay deposits do not receive the same protections as others. In order to alleviate this problem, further consideration could be given to including non-self-contained accommodation within the scope of the tenancy deposit scheme arrangements so that all deposit money is treated the same. However, it is acknowledged that there are legal obstacles to this happening based on the current scope of the Residential Tenancy Law and the types of rented accommodation to which the law applies.’

According to the report, the introduction of a tenancy deposit scheme has had a positive effect on Jersey’s rental sector.

‘It provides a greater incentive for landlords and tenants to adopt good practice in the handling of deposit money, and tempers the behaviour of landlords who might otherwise withhold deposit money without justification,’ it says.

As of the the end of September 2018, 9,766 deposits had been protected, with the scheme worth a total of £8,251,476.