Fearless Flathunting – 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.
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 Tenancy Deposit Schemes Leaflet explaining the changes. In short if your landlord wishes to take a rental deposit from you they must place this with a government approved 3rd party tenancy deposit scheme 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 it’s release in full or raise any dispute/claim for damages caused/unpaid rent etc.
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 requires 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 their accommodation advice.