Q. My friend’s flatmate wants to move out and I intend to move in and take his place. We have spoken to the agent managing the property and they have agreed this with the landlord, but they obviously need to reference me and draw up a brand-new contract. My question is surrounding the deposit. The current tenant whom I’m replacing is insisting that I give him his share back as soon as I move in as his half is registered and protected with the estate agent in a scheme, but I am not sure if this is the safest thing to do as how can I be sure I will get it back when I vacate, given I never transferred the funds to the agent originally?
A. Tenant swap is something agents are used to handling on a regular basis and as long as this is done in the right way which it sounds like the agent is already doing given they are referencing you and drawing up a brand-new contract you will be fine. However, you are right about the deposit. The departing tenant cannot demand that you pay him your share. He needs to deal directly with the agent to recover his part once he officially moves out of the property and the existing tenant agrees to release him of any liability surrounding damages or dilapidations to the property. When a deposit is protected in a scheme it must be released following the correct procedure and back to the person who originally paid it. Your share of the deposit will need to be paid directly to the estate agent and they in turn will protect and register it for you in the scheme. You should then get an email from the scheme itself and the estate agent is duty bound to provide you with a copy of the certificate upon registration, to show that it is registered in the scheme. Deposits must be handled like this to ensure each tenant is be protected. It may seem like the simplest solution to sort it out amongst yourself I’m sure, but this leaves you exposed and unprotected. The government introduced these deposit protection schemes, there are three of them to choose from to look after and protect tenants from finding themselves in a position where they are unable to retrieve their money back at the end of a tenancy mainly because of rogue landlords so do ensure you comply with the terms to keep your precious money safe until the end of the tenancy.