Prescribed Information: What you need to know
What do you need to know about deposits?
There’s lots to remember when you’re a landlord, from making sure your legal compliance documents are in place (Gas Safety, EICR and EPC) and up-to-date, to taking proper care of your tenant’s deposit.
When it comes to deposits, you need to make sure that you deal with it exactly as you are supposed to, otherwise you could face a fine.
So what are the steps you need to take to look after the deposit?
- Register. You have to register the deposit within 30 days of receipt, either with the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
- Sign. Sign the deposit certificate, which has to go to the tenant. They can sign this too, though they don’t have to
- Send. Make sure that you send the proof of registration to the tenant to prove that it has been registered. Do this as soon as you receive it so you don’t forget!
What is prescribed information?
Now, all of that might sound quite simple, but you may be wondering what the ‘prescribed information’ actually is!
Simply put, the prescribed information is the document that explains where and how the tenant’s deposit has been protected and how it will be handled when the tenant leaves the property. It’s important that the tenant receives this as proof that their deposit has been taken care of and is not at risk.
The prescribed information will include the deposit protection certificate and a terms and conditions leaflet. So everything the tenant needs to confirm their deposit is safe and what will happen to it when they leave the property.
What if you don’t send the prescribed information?
If you work with a letting agent, it’s important that you make sure that they are following these steps. Never assume that your letting agent is doing all they should – or even that they know better than you what needs to be done!
PurpleBricks hit the headlines earlier this year when it was discovered that they weren’t sending out the prescribed information to tenants and another landlord faced a fine because the letting agent had missed the deadline for protecting the deposit in the first place.
You need to make sure – whether you are a self-managed landlord or using an agent – that your tenant(s) have copies of:
- Gas Safety Certificate. This needs to be updated annually
- EICR. This needs to be updated every 5 years
- EPC. This needs to be updated every 10 years, or when you’ve made significant changes to the property that would improve its EPC rating
- Prescribed information. This doesn’t need to be updated as the deposit will remain in the protection scheme of your choice until the tenant leaves and it needs to be returned
If you’re doing all of this yourself, without an agent, use our free Document Storage tool to save everything in one place (it will even remind you when a certificate is coming up to expiry, so you can arrange to update it in a couple of clicks).
If you – or your agent – doesn’t send over the prescribed information, you could face a fine of up to 3x the original deposit. It could also impede any eviction proceedings.
While this seems like such a small administrative job, it’s can have a much larger impact on the tenancy – and your pocket. So you can see just how important it is that you get the prescribed information over to your tenant!
Are there alternatives?
Mashroom does offer an alternative to the traditional deposit scheme. Our Deposit Replacement offers landlords 12 weeks’ worth of protection, at a much lower price for tenants.
It’s a great alternative because it makes renting so much cheaper for tenants, who don’t have to struggle to find a large deposit up front, but actually gives the landlord’s more protection.
And, because it doesn’t work like a traditional deposit and the tenant doesn’t receive it back at the end of the tenancy, you don’t need to protect it, so you don’t have to worry about sending through the prescribed information.
- Cheaper for the tenant
- Less work for the landlord
- More protection for the property
If you do decide to take the more traditional fixed deposit route, whatever you do, don’t forget to send over the prescribed information, or you could find yourself in hot water later!