Government considers ‘deposit passports’ in yet another rental reform

The government is considering the idea of a deposit passport for use by tenants when they move from one property to another.

A call for evidence has been made by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with agents and all others wishing to put forward suggestions being asked to do so by early September.

The announcement came initially yesterday morning, tacked on to the end of a much more detailed statement about leasehold properties.

It said: “More than four million people live in the private rented sector, yet when moving home, some tenants can find it a struggle to provide a second deposit to their new landlord – risking falling into debt or becoming trapped in their current home. Ministers want to understand the scale of this problem.

“Ministers are inviting proposals to make it easier for renters to transfer deposits directly between landlords when moving from one property to the next. Freeing up deposits and allowing a renter’s hard-earned cash to follow them from property to property – as they move to take that perfect job, to move nearer to family, or find a place that suits their changing needs – will create a fairer housing market that works for all.”

However, then Housing Secretary James Brokenshire issued the formal call for evidence which seeks so-called “innovative solutions” to reduce the cost of moving for tenants.

Brokenshire’s forward to the 35-page document says:

“I am committed to making the process for tenants getting their deposit back much smoother. I want to understand whether there should be a deadline for landlords returning deposits. I also want to look at whether existing initiatives are meeting tenants’ needs and whether the market can offer improved products. Alongside this, I want to look more widely at whether innovative approaches to helping tenants move more easily, including allowing tenants to passport their deposit between tenancies.

“It is important that good landlords have the confidence to let out their properties safe in the knowledge that a deposit will provide them with reasonable protection from damages to their property. Any improvements to the way deposits are returned at the end of a tenancy will need to ensure that deposits still serve this purpose and that deposit protection continues to work well for both tenants and landlords.”

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