The region’s landlords and letting agents have only one month left to register historical tenancy deposits or face hefty fines as new laws come into force.
The alert has come from lawyer and property expert Justin Parker, a partner at Midland law firm mfg Solicitors, who is concerned that landlords are leaving themselves at risk from rules that were designed to protect tenants.
From 23 June 2015, any residential deposit dating back before 6 April 2007 has to have been registered with a scheme such as the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Since 2007, landlords have been obliged to register deposits within 30 days of a new assured shorthold tenancy beginning.
But the changes under the Deregulation Act apply to old tenancies with as many as one in three landlords across England and Wales potentially falling into the trap and incurring large financial penalties.
Mr Parker said: “The fines for landlords and letting agents not registering are unlimited and they’re worked out at three times the initial deposit. So with a typical deposit of around £1,000, that’s potentially £3,000 for every deposit that was not registered.
“It is not just fines either. Landlords, and indeed agents, who fail to register historical deposits will find it is difficult to remove tenants when the time comes because they will have failed in their obligations.
“The landlords most likely to be at risk are those who have had tenants for several years and the agreement has just ‘rolled over’. They may not have been aware of the need to register.”
Mr Parker, who is based at the firm’s Kidderminster office, added that he is urging landlords to seek advice immediately if they are unsure and to review their tenancies while there is still time.