Does the account have to be in the same name?
In short - no, there is no legal requirement for the name on the landlord's account with the deposit agency (e.g. the DPS) to be the same as the landlord's name on the contract.
Housing Act 2004, chapter 4, section 212 (9a) states:
“references to a landlord or landlords in relation to any shorthold tenancy or tenancies include references to a person or persons acting on his or their behalf in relation to the tenancy or tenancies”.
So, if a landlord asked a third party (who could be an individual or an agent) to deal with a deposit on their behalf, that person would take on the obligations of the landlord.
However, the landlord must provide their name and details to tenants
Section 213 (5) and (6) states that the landlord must provide details of the deposit scheme used and other ‘prescribed information’ which the landlord must supply and which provide the tenant with information about how their deposit will be treated and how it can be reclaimed.
The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 gives further information on this prescribed information and specifies that it should include “the name, address, telephone number, and any e-mail address or fax number of the landlord”. However, it does not specify anything about the name on the deposit account.
So, the legislation requires that landlords must provide their name to tenants (which in any case is required in any demand for rent) along with other details, but deposit protection is an obligation which other parties can do on behalf of the landlord; the legislation does not state that the deposit must be registered in the landlord’s name as long as the prescribed information is provided correctly otherwise.