Agent demands information after asking about deposit schemes

An agent that wanted information on tenancy deposits was given varying information by the three schemes.

One simply sent the information requested.

It is alleged that a second said it could not release the data, and that the third asked for payment to give the information.

North-east letting agent KIS, which operates a no-deposit model in favour of insurance, said it had been looking to benchmark its processes against the national average.

It asked the three protections schemes licensed by DCLG the same questions:

  • What is the number and value of total deposits held by you?
  • How many deposits (number and value) result in deposit returned to tenant undisputed?
  • In the case of those deposits that are disputed, what is the average time it takes to resolve by arbitration?
  • What is the split of arbitration resulting in tenant and landlords favour?
  • What is the average length a deposit is kept in the scheme?

The results, according to KIS, were:

Tenancy Deposit Scheme – Immediately supplied their annual report, containing majority of information requested.

DPS – Refused to supply any information, replying: “Requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act can only be made to a public authority, or for information held by or on behalf of a public authority. The DPS is not a public authority. It is run by Computershare Investor Services PLC, a public limited company, and the information that you have requested is not held on behalf of a public authority.

MyDeposits – “We are subject to data protection requests. If you have a query you will need to put this in writing and we will return to you with a quotation for a reasonable administration charge.

“Once payment has been made, we will return to you within 40 calendar days with the information you have requested.

KIS said it has now written to DCLG requesting clarification.

Managing director Ajay Jagota said: “I believe there is a moral obligation for the deposit protection schemes to provide information like this, in the name of transparency if nothing else.

“To be so cagey about it just looks like they’re trying to hide something.

“It may be the case that they don’t have any legal obligation to do so – we’ve written to the government requesting clarification –  but it’s inexplicable they would respond so differently to our requests, with one scheme supplying the information immediately, no questions asked, one asking for money and the other just pulling down the shutters.

“It’s not as if these figures make them look bad – surely it’s in their interest to showcase how quickly they resolve disputes and return money?

“And with one scheme supplying the information in the form of their annual report, it implies to me that this information must be mostly in the public domain anyway.

“These schemes are operating on behalf of DCLG and if they did not have a licence to do so, they would not have a business, so the argument that this information is not held on behalf of a public authority strikes me as a little strange, not least when your competitors don’t appear to see things that way.”

Eye invited all three schemes to comment.

A spokesperson for DPS said: “I can confirm that the information that was requested is owned by the DCLG and any request for information should be made through them.”

MyDeposits said: “With a vast amount of data on deposits and disputes collated across three different deposits schemes it’s vital that any new requests for information are closely examined and handled correctly before being released to the public.

“While mydeposits is able to look into such data requests it’s important to note that prior approval from DCLG would be needed before we can proceed and that it would not incur a charge. Requests to process member data is, however, governed by different procedures and could incur potential charges.

“DCLG works very closely with all the deposits schemes and releases an annual update which provides a fuller picture about deposits and disputes. This also ensures that data is not taken out of context or misinterpreted by individual schemes or by those who make data requests.”

Steve Harriott, boss of the TDS, told us: “TDS protects over £1.2bn in tenancy deposits so we see it as extremely important to be open about our performance.

“Whilst it is not an obligation for us to do so, we share information and statistics about our activities every year in our annual review.

“It is just one part of the open and ongoing dialogue we have with people on the ground who use the scheme, helping us to keep adapting and improving the service.”

Homesearch EOS
x

Email the story to a friend



One Comment

  1. SafeDeposits Scotland

    Interesting article which emphasises the importance of tenancy deposit schemes being transparent regarding their performance and activities.

    After tenancy deposit schemes were launched in Scotland in 2012, SafeDeposits Scotland published a two year anniversary report last summer to give landlords, letting agents and tenants an open look at deposit protection in Scotland: https://safedepositsscotland.com/landlord-information/guidance-documents The report gives information on various topics, including compliance levels and adjudication.

    SafeDeposits Scotland is happy to provide requested information and can be contacted on 03333 213 136 or via info@safedepositsscotland.com

    Charlene Moore
    Communications Officer
    SafeDeposits Scotland

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.