On 6 April 2012, section 184 of the Localism Act 2011 came into force. The section amends section 213 to 215 of the Housing Act 2004 and provides the following:
The period in which a landlord must protect a deposit by paying it into a scheme and give prescribed information to the tenant in accordance with the rules of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme has been increased from 14 to 30 days;
A tenant can now apply to court if the landlord fails to protect the deposit within the 30 day period and the landlord cannot obtain a defence to such an action by protecting the deposit late. A tenant can apply to court under these provisions even if the tenancy has ended;
The penalty for failing to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme will be a sum not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times the amount. This is instead of the mandatory penalty of three times the deposit that previously existed. In addition the landlord will still have to protect the deposit or refund it.
The changes have been designed to give more force to the scheme by removing the court’s discretion not to penalise landlords for not paying deposits into a suitable deposit scheme within the required period.