As a landlord or letting agent, there’s a time-critical checklist you need to follow when dealing with tenancy deposits. From when you need to register the deposit to when you serve the Prescribed Information (PI), these deadlines are in place to keep you legally compliant.

But what happens if you go the other way and serve your PI too early? Sandy Bastin, Head of Adjudication Services at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) explains why serving the PI to tenants too early could cause compliance issues…

What is Prescribed Information (PI)?

If you’re new to private lettings, the Prescribed Information (PI) is given to tenants after they have paid the deposit to make them aware of their rights during and at the end of the tenancy regarding their deposit.

Under the Housing Act 2004, it’s a legal requirement for the landlord to give the PI to the tenant and anyone who paid the deposit on the tenant’s behalf (a Relevant Person).

The PI comprises a leaflet entitled ‘What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?’. This explains the relevant sections of the Housing Act 2004 (sections 212 to 215, and Schedule 10) which must also accompany the leaflet.

The leaflet also includes details about the procedures that apply under the deposit protection scheme regarding repayments, changes to tenancy and disputes.

When must you serve the PI to tenants?

The Act states that, as the landlord, you are legally required to serve the PI to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

It must be served to the tenant with the scheme leaflet, and provide the tenant with the opportunity to sign the last page of the Prescribed Information.

Since the time limit for serving the Prescribed Information runs from when part or all of the deposit has been received, giving it to the tenant before this is not recommended as it won’t comply with the legislation – even if you thought you were being efficient.

The bottom line is that if you serve the PI too early, it won’t be valid. If you don’t give it to the tenant within the correct timescale, you will be in breach of the Housing Act 2004 which could expose you and/or the deposit holder to legal action for compensation by the tenant.

To be on the safe side, you should keep a record of when the documents were given to the tenants to show they were served within the designated time.

Where to find the Prescribed Information

TDS has made the Prescribed Information process easy.

Simply use the PI template and scheme leaflet from our Prescribed Information resources in the TDS Information Lounge. If you use the TDS Custodial scheme, the template comes pre-populated with details of the deposit you registered, to make the process even easier and quicker.

If you don’t use the free TDS Custodial deposit scheme yet, it’s quick and easy to join (even if you’re switching from another scheme). Arrange a demo or join today.

About the Author

Sandy Bastin - Head of TDS Adjudication Services

Sandy joined TDS in 2008 and is now Head of TDS Adjudication Services. A qualified solicitor with many years’ experience practising and specialising in Real Estate, Sandy is responsible for recruiting and training TDS Adjudicators. She provides continued support and mentoring to the team, which includes quality assurance activity to ensure the high standards expected from TDS Adjudication decisions are met. Sandy is also a complaints handler for TDS England and Wales and is involved with the final decisions following reviews for SafeDeposits Scotland and TDS Northern Ireland. Sandy delivers TDS Adjudication Workshops and provides Adjudication training – the TDS Way. She also plays a role in ensuring TDS provides an excellent Customer Service experience.

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