Nearly a third (30%) of the most serious tenant complaints to solicitors are about the misuse of deposits.
Of this proportion 25% were unsure whether their deposit was protected.
Damp and mould accounts for 21% of complaints made to solicitors, highlighting that this is clearly a very common issue.
The research comes from claims management firm Veriwise.
Ajay Jagota, Veriwise founder, commented: “Veriwise was created in response to Britain’s epidemic of poorly maintained and unrepaired rented homes – but we’ve been startled at how many of the most serious complaints we’ve received about landlords continue to relate to deposits.
“The situation could be even worse than it looks – it’s truly alarming how many of the renters who come to us to complain about things like broken central heating, rodent infestations and dangerous electrics are also unable to tell us if and where their deposit is protected.
“It stands to reason that the same landlords who don’t care about their legal responsibilities when it comes to living conditions would be equally negligent when it comes to deposits.”
Research conducted by the National Residential Landlords Association discovered that two-thirds of English councils have prosecuted no landlords for offences related to standards in or the management of private rented housing over the last three years – and that just 20 local authorities were responsible for 77% of all successful prosecutions.
Jagota added: “As always, my questions are who is enforcing these regulations? The NRLA research suggests next-to-no-one.
“Legislation only works if it’s enforced. It is 14 years since tenancy deposit protection became mandatory – and there are countless other laws and regulations designed to protect tenants which may as well not exist.
“But by the looks of things even major players like Purple Bricks are being accused of failing to adhere to them. Veriwise was set up to make sure that renter’s rights are protected – regardless of how much money or legal knowledge they have.”
Landlords renting out their home on an assured shorthold tenancy are required to register the deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.