Utilities Bond instead of Tenancy Deposit (for student lets)?
Until now, besides the rent for the property, we also take £30 pcm per person as a prepayment towards the cost of utilities, and this gets adjusted against actual bills 2-3 times a year (electricity, gas, water, broadband, TV license, satellite or cable TV, phone connection).
Previously the main problem with returning tenancy deposits quickly after the end of the tenancy (and the main cause of disputes on the deposits) was in getting final bills issued in good time (rather than disputes about rent arrears or damages).
We would like to eliminate the tenancy deposit, but introduce a "Utilities Bond" to specifically cover the payment of utilities bills, should there be a shortfall at the end and the student tenants have moved on (and maybe gone back to their home countries).
Q1: Would this be legal and not seen as simply a way to get around the tenancy deposit scheme?
Q2: Would a maximum bond of say £500 be seen as "reasonable"? If not, what would be a "reasonable" maximum?
Q3: Would we be able to use the Utilities Bond to cover other items such as repairs, or other arrears, or would that cause it to be treated as a standard tenancy deposit?
Many thanks for any feedback and further ideas!
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