In an unusual move the Jersey government is to give local authorities on the island more powers to prosecute landlords who do not protect tenants’ deposits within the 30 days required, it has been reported.
A tenant deposit protection scheme was introduced on Jersey in 2015 and landlords, as in mainland UK, are now required to lodge deposits within 30 days of receiving payment from a tenant and provide proscribed information about where, when and how their deposit is protected.
Currently Jersey landlords and agents face enforcement action if they fail to lodge a deposit within this timeframe and a fine of up to £10,000.
But these measures are not having the desire outcome - the island’s housing minister David Warr (pictured) says that over the past three years some 1,400 deposits out of 7,700 have not been lodged with the official scheme run by MyDeposits, although it is not clear long after the 30-day deadline they were protected.
ITV reports that following a meeting last week Warr has revealed his intention to ensure landlords and agents who do not comply with deposit protection face prosecution by giving local authorities more powers.
“Whilst there may be reasons why a landlord or agent may not meet the 30-day deadline, and it may be an honest mistake, it is imperative that tenants' deposits are afforded the protection of the tenancy deposit scheme,” Warr told ITV.
"I am in discussions with the Law Officers Department to ensure appropriate action can be taken against non-compliance - to ensure that tenants receive the statutory protection to which they are entitled under the law".
Warr also hopes to "provide relevant authorities with sufficient powers to enforce compliance when an offence has been committed".
If implemented, Warr’s plans would set it apart from the rest of UK where the onus is on the tenant to take a landlords or agent to a tribunal for non-compliance with tenancy protection laws. Tenants who win cases of this kind are entitled to have three times their deposit returned to them.
MyDeposits tells LandordZONE that it is keen to work with Jersey landlords who need more information on how to protect deposits and that its website has a wealth of information for both landlords, agents and tenant on the correct processes to follow.