In a nutshell, the statutory provisions relating to tenancy deposit schemes apply to cases involving assured shorthold tenancies created since 6 April 2007 where the landlord (or his agent) takes a deposit from the tenant (or a third party), and they require the landlord to protect the deposit for the benefi t of the tenant by dealing with it in accordance with one of the schemes authorised for the purpose, which also facilitate the resolution of disputes arising in connection with such deposits.

The relevant provisions of primary legislation are contained in Sections 212-215 and Schedule 10 of the Housing Act 2004, and came into force on 6 April 2007. However, the Localism Act 2011 has made some important amendments to these provisions which came into force on 6 April 2012, and which effectively reverse some decisions of the Court of Appeal. There are also relevant provisions of secondary legislation in the Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007.

Where a landlord receives a deposit from a tenant, the landlord must comply with the initial requirements of an authorised scheme and give the tenant prescribed information in relation to the deposit within 30 days of receiving it. Where the landlord fails to do this, the tenant may apply to a County Court for orders against the landlord including for the repayment of the deposit and for the payment of a sum of money between one and three times the amount of the deposit.

In Tiensia v Vision Enterprises [2010] EWCA Civ 1224, [2011] 1 All ER 1059, the Court of Appeal held that the court could not make orders against a landlord who had failed to fulfi l his obligations within 14 (now 30) days if he had done so before the hearing of a tenant’s application for such orders. However, the effect of the amendments made to the tenancy deposit schemes provisions by the Localism Act 2011 seems to be that the court will make orders against a landlord who has failed to fulfi l his obligations within 30 days of receiving the deposit, even if he does so thereafter.

Further, in Gladehurst Properties v Hashemi [2011] EWCA Civ 604, [2011] 4 All ER 556, the Court of Appeal held that the court could not make orders against a landlord who had failed to fulfi l his obligations after the tenancy had ended (although, in Potts v Densley [2011] EWHC 1144 (QB), [2012] 1 WLR 1204, the High Court appeared to say otherwise). However, the effect of the amendments seems to be that the court will make orders against a landlord who has failed to fulfi l his obligations within 30 days of receiving the deposit, even if the tenancy has come to an end.

In Suurpere v Nice [2011] EWHC 2003 (QB), [2012] 1 WLR 1224, the High Court held that the court should make orders against a landlord who had failed to fulfi l his obligations even if he had returned the deposit before the hearing of a tenant’s application for such orders. This case was, like the other cases mentioned above, decided before the recent amendments to the tenancy deposit schemes provisions, but it would seem to be in line with the effects of those amendments.

In addition to the above, it now seems that unless the deposit has been returned to the tenant in full or with agreed deductions, or an application has been made to a County Court and determined, withdrawn or settled, then the landlord may not give a notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 when he has failed to fulfi l his obligations within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

The amendments made to the tenancy deposit schemes provisions by the Localism Act 2011 seem to have clarifi ed the intentions of those provisions and improved their effectiveness in achieving those aims, but there are issues that remain to be resolved and, of course, the effects of the amendments will not be known for sure until they have been tested by the courts.