Ayannuga v Swindells (2012)

This recent Court of Appeal decision is in relation to tenancy deposit protection and specifically the issue of prescribed information.

In this case, the landlord put the tenant’s deposit in one of the approved tenancy deposit schemes but did not provide the prescribed information required by the Housing (Tenancy Deposits)(Prescribed Information) Order 2007. The landlord sought possession of the property after the tenant allegedly fell into rent arrears. After the tenant counter-claimed that the prescribed information had not been provided by the landlord, the landlord admitted this but argued that it was a procedural element and that the deposit was protected in accordance with the legislation. Further, the landlord argued that the tenant was able to ascertain the relevant information from the scheme administrator. The tenant’s claim was dismissed by the lower court who held that the landlord had done enough to comply with the Order.

The tenant appealed and the Court of Appeal held that the prescribed information that was needed was of significant importance as it provided tenants with information on how they could attempt to recover money and dispute deductions without having to go through court action. The landlord was made to return the deposit in addition to a penalty equivalent to three times this amount.

The Court of Appeal has therefore ruled that protection of the deposit without the information is not enough to discharge a landlord’s obligations to the tenant. The onus is on the landlord to supply the relevant information to the tenant.

Whether the landlord has provided sufficient information is judged by the test laid down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Ravenseft Properties v Hall: i.e. whether the notice is “substantially to the same effect”  in accomplishing the purpose of telling the tenant of the procedures and rights that they have in respect of recovering money and contesting decisions under the tenancy deposit scheme in operation.

Ultimately, tenants have an additional means of defending possession claims and landlords need to do all that they can to bring the prescribed information to their tenants’ attention.