Tenancy deposit protection schemes have been introduced to regulate the use of tenancy deposits, and to minimise disputes which arise over deductions. These schemes had a successful launch and have been in operation for several years now.
Since 1 October 2010, it has been a legal obligation for all landlords operating Assured Shorthold Tenancies with a rent threshold of up to £100,000 per annum to protect tenants' deposits in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. (From April 2007, landlords were obliged to protect a tenant's deposit when operating Assured Shorthold Tenancies wtih a rent threshold of up to £25,000 per annum). As of 6 April 2012, the deposit must be protected in an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme and provide prescribed information within 30 days.
Regrettably, not all landlords have been forthcoming about participating in the scheme, whilst others may not be aware that it is a legal obligation. This has resulted in some landlords having not yet engaged with the scheme. If you have not yet signed your contract you should ask your landlord about the deposit protection and the details of the scheme and organisation s/he will be using. It should also be stated within your contract; although it remains a legal obligation regardless, this is just an act of good faith. If you believe your landlord has not protected your deposit when s/he ought to have done you are entitled to bring proceedings against them. If the prosecution is successful, the landlord can be ordered to pay damages to the tenant up to three times the value of the deposit. Please contact The Advice & Support Centre in the Students' Union or Runnymede Borough Council if you would like further advice in respect of deposit protection.