Claims against landlords for non-compliance with deposit protection rules
Landlords may be liable to repay the deposit in addition to paying a sum between one and three times the amount of the deposit paid.
The tenant, or any other 'relevant person', who paid a deposit can make an application to the county court for an order imposing financial sanctions on a landlord or agent who has not complied with their obligations under the tenancy deposit protection legislation within the relevant time limits. For details of the statutory requirements see Tenancy deposit protection rules.
A section 214 claim is not available where a deposit was paid in respect of a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy that became a statutory periodic tenancy before 6 April 2007, and has never been renewed since.
Starting a claim
A section 214 claim should be brought under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules, as modified by Part 56, using Court Form N208. The court may accept a claim made on the standard Court Form N1 especially from a litigant in person.
An application can also be made by way of counterclaim, for example to a landlord's claim for rent arrears.
In joint tenancies, each of the tenants must be party to the application. However, if one tenant has disappeared, the other tenant(s) can apply to the court under CPR 19.3 for an order that the claim can proceed and the missing tenant is not required to be a party. For more information on joint tenants and tenancy deposits, see Joint tenancies.
All the existing tenants could be replacement tenants, and not named on the original tenancy agreement. In one County Court appeal, the new tenants had moved in with the agreement of the landlord and paid a deposit to the departing tenants they replaced. They had a right to claim when their deposit was not protected.
Limitation of claim
A claim must be brought within six years of the date that a 'cause of action' arises.
This date is likely to be the expiry of the time limit for a landlord/agent to comply with the tenancy deposit protection rules, but it could also be argued that the time limit for a claim starts from the end of the tenancy, since that is the time at which the deposit becomes repayable.
In some circumstances, the six-year limit would be unfair if it dates from the expiry of the 30-day time limit for compliance, since the issue of deposit protection may only come to the tenant's attention when the tenancy ends. Also, a tenant may continue in occupation for longer than six years, knowing that the deposit was not protected, but not wanting to bring a claim in case of a retaliatory eviction.
The question of the correct limitation period has not been tested in the courts.
What the court can order
Where the court is satisfied that the landlord or their agent has not complied with all their obligations within the relevant time limits, it:
must order the landlord or agent to pay the tenant or 'relevant person' a sum between one and three times the amount of the deposit paid, and
where the tenancy has not ended at the date of the hearing must order the landlord/agent to repay the deposit to the tenant (or 'relevant person'), or to pay it into an authorised custodial scheme
where the tenancy has ended at the date of the hearing may order the landlord/agent to repay all or part of the deposit to the tenant (or 'relevant person')
The order must be complied with within 14 days.
The landlord cannot avoid a financial sanction by belatedly complying with their obligations.
The legislation does not set out any factors the court should consider when deciding the level of the award. However, the courts are likely to take into account whether the landlord:
should be assumed to be aware of their obligations, for example when they are professional landlords
acted in bad faith
had taken steps to rectify the failure to comply with their obligations
One court considered the blameworthiness of the landlord as the most relevant factor when deciding the level of the award.
A landlord who had protected the deposit in an authorised scheme, but had failed to provide the tenant with all the prescribed information, had not complied with the statutory scheme and was ordered to pay a financial penalty.
If the landlord has taken a deposit that consists of property other than money, the court must order the landlord to return that property to the tenant.
There is no binding case law to confirm whether a section 214 claim can be made for each breach of the tenancy deposit protection requirements (such as a failure to protect a deposit both under an original fixed-term agreement, and under subsequent statutory periodic tenancy) or whether the first breach would be treated as a single continuing breach.
Last updated: 23 July 2021
s.214(1) Housing Act 2004, as amended by s.184 Localism Act 2011 and by s.31 Deregulation Act 2015.
r.56.2 CPR; para 2.1 PD 56.
s.214(1A) Housing Act 2004, as inserted by s.184 Localism Act 2011.
Art 16 Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional, Transitory and Saving Provisions) Order 2012 SI 2012/628; Gladehurst Properties Ltd v Hashemi  EWCA Civ 604.
Gladehurst Properties Ltd v Hashemi  EWCA Civ 604.
Sturgiss & Anor v Boddy & Ors  EW Misc 10 (CC).
s.9 Limitation Act 1980.
s.214(3), (3A) and (4) Housing Act 2004, as amended.
Khuja v Chowdhury  EW Misc B18 (CC). It should be noted that s.214 Housing Act 2004 was amended to reverse the effect of the decisions in Tiensa v Vision Enterprises Ltd  EWCA Civ 1224, in which the Court of Appeal held that the relevant date was the date of the hearing so that a landlord could always defeat a claim by complying before the actual hearing of the tenant's claim.
Okadigbo v Chan  EWHC 4729 (QB).
Ayannuga v Swindells  EWCA Civ 1789; Suurpere v Nice  EWHC 2003 (QB).
s.213(7) and (8) Housing Act 2004.