Under the provisions of the United Kingdom Housing Act 2004 every landlord or letting agent that takes a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy in England and Wales must join a tenancy deposit scheme. The new regulations came into effect from 6 April, 2007. It is common for landlords to take a dilapidation deposit from a tenant at the start of the tenancy. The deposit acts as a safeguard should the tenant cause any damage to the property. Some unscrupulous landlords are either very slow to return deposits at the end of the tenancy or make unfair deductions. The purpose of the new regulations is to ensure good practice in this area. The secondary purpose of the new regulations is to try and keep disputes between landlords and tenants out of the courts by encouraging alternative dispute resolution.