More than 200 landlords breach tenant deposit rules in 18 months
A law designed to protect the deposits of private tenants across Scotland has been breached by more than 200 landlords in the last 18 months, new figures have revealed.
Since 2012, landlords in Scotland that take a deposit from their tenant have been required to lodge the deposit with one of three government-approved schemes within 30 working days of the tenancy commencing.
Landlords also have to give written information to their tenant, such as the deposit amount and date received, the date the deposit was paid into the tenancy deposit scheme and the address of the property.
Failure to do so can result in fines of up to three times the deposit value, which the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) presides on.
SafeDeposits Scotland, one of the three government-approved schemes, accessed publicly-available documents on the Housing and Property Chamber First-tier Tribunal for Scotland website.
It studied decisions made by the Tribunal since it began hearing cases of non-compliance with deposit protection at the end of 2017 and found that around £186,657 had been paid out to tenants – the equivalent of more than £900 per case.
The largest award was made to tenants renting a property in Edinburgh, where one landlord was ordered to pay £3,937.50, whilst the lowest was £50 for a property in Hamilton.
Rented properties in Glasgow accounted for the greatest number of cases heard by the Tribunal, closely followed by Edinburgh, with 38 and 37 cases respectively.
Victoria Smith, chief operating officer at SafeDeposits Scotland, said: “Deposit protection legislation is designed to protect all parties involved in the private rented sector and costs landlords nothing to comply with. The schemes also offer free and impartial adjudication services to ensure that any deductions from deposits are fair and can be scrutinised.
“We believe that the overwhelming majority of landlords operate within the rules, but the findings from our research into the first 18 months of the First-tier Tribunal demonstrates that there are some out there who don’t.
“In most of the cases we’ve looked at, the landlord has not acted out of malice, but was either simply unaware of the legislation or forgot, however, that does not reassure tenants or save landlords from fines.
“Landlords must protect a tenant’s deposit within 30 working days of receiving it with a government-approved scheme like SafeDeposits Scotland. Tenants should also receive confirmation from landlords about which scheme their deposit is with.
“If you are unsure of your rights and responsibilities – either as a tenant or landlord – you can contact our Glasgow-based support team or visit our website.”
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We fully expect all landlords to protect tenancy deposits and seek legal advice if they are not clear on the rules.”