Deposits

Did you know that since 2012 landlords in Scotland legally have to register your tenancy deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of the tenancy starting? It’s an offence if they don’t.

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When you move into rented accommodation, most private landlords or letting agents ask for a deposit. A deposit is a sum of money which acts as a guarantee against:

  • damage you, as a tenant, may do to the property;
  • cleaning bills if you have left the property in poor condition;
  • bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills;
  • any unpaid rent.

A deposit cannot be used to replace items that are damaged, or worn, due to normal wear and tear – for example, worn carpets and furniture.

In 2012 the Scottish Government introduced a new scheme to protect your tenancy deposit if you are in private rented accommodation. The SRC has produced a Tenancy Deposit Schemes Leaflet explaining how it works. If you have any queries about the scheme, or are experiencing any difficulty getting your deposit back at the end of your tenancy, please get in touch with the SRC Advice Centre.

In short, if your landlord wishes to take a rental deposit from you they must place this with a government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) who will retain the deposit for the duration of your tenancy. At the end of the tenancy both the tenant and the landlord must contact the scheme to either agree to the deposit’s release in full or raise any dispute/claim for damages caused/unpaid rent etc.

Within 30 working days (6 weeks) of the tenancy beginning, your landlord must give you the following information:

  • How much – confirm the amount of the deposit.
  • Dates – the date they received the deposit and the date they paid the deposit into a scheme.
  • Address – of the property that the deposit relates to.
  • Landlord registration – a statement from your landlord confirming they are registered.
  • Which scheme – the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme where the deposit was paid. There are 3 schemes My Deposit Scotland, Safe Deposits Scotland or Letting Protection Service Scotland.
  • Terms – the conditions in which all, or part, of your deposit can be kept at the end of the tenancy.

If it’s been more than 6 weeks since your tenancy started and you’re not sure what’s happened to your deposit, the Advice Centre have put together some template letters you can use.  Firstly, you can send an initial enquiry  to your landlord or letting agent (you can send this by post or email).  If you don’t get a response within a reasonable time (1 – 2 weeks) then you can follow up with a chaser letter.  If you have any questions or would like further advice about this, please contact the SRC Advice Centre.

Unfortunately we have found that since the introduction of this legislation a number of landlords are failing to lodge rental deposits with the tenancy deposit scheme. This is an offence under the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and in theory you can pursue your landlord via the courts for compensation of up to 3 times your original rental deposit amount*. This type of action must be lodged with the sheriff court within 3 months of your tenancy ending.

We’ve used the words “in theory” deliberately here as the legal process you are required to follow to take your landlord to court for this type of action may require you to be represented by a lawyer, and carries potentially expensive court costs. If you have any questions about this type of action please just get in touch.

Some landlords are also requesting that tenants pay “rent in advance” instead of a rental deposit, this normally means that you pay 2 months rent at the beginning of your tenancy and do not pay rent for your last month in the property. This is of course a completely legal practice but you should clarify with your landlord if any monies paid to them are being held as a deposit (as they are then required to lodge this with a tenancy deposit scheme) or are instead rent in advance.

If you have paid any money (rent in advance or a deposit) which you believe your landlord/letting agent is withholding unfairly or you have any questions about housing generally please get in touch with the SRC Advice Centre or check out our accommodation advice.