Landlords urged to protect tenancy deposits during ‘busiest month’

Victoria Smith

Landlords in Scotland are being urged to make sure they register their tenants’ deposits correctly during the busiest month for new rentals.

Records compiled over the last five years by deposit protection company SafeDeposits Scotland has shown that August is the busiest month for new tenancies.

By law in Scotland, any deposit taken by a landlord must be lodged with one of three government-backed protection schemes within 30 days of the lease starting.

Landlords that fail to meet these terms can face action from the tenants and a fine of up to three times the value of the deposit through the new First-tier Tribunal.

The First-tier Tribunal was introduced by the Scottish Government in December 2017 to provide an additional layer of protection for tenants, landlords and agents. New data has shown that since coming in to force, it has adjudicated on 40 cases (as of week beginning 13 August 2018) with one Edinburgh landlord instructed to pay £2,040 when he failed to protect his tenants’ £680 deposit.

The First-tier Tribunal has received over 200 applications (as of week beginning 13 August 2018) related to unprotected tenancy deposits, but some were submitted after the three-month cut-off period – tenants who are pursuing their landlord or letting agent through the Tribunal must lodge their application no later than three months after the tenancy ends.

SafeDeposits Scotland offers advice to landlords on how to protect deposits properly, and tenants; a free, online deposit checker to make sure that their money is safe.

Victoria Smith, chief operating officer at SafeDeposits Scotland, said: “Since August is traditionally our busiest month for new tenancies being registered, it’s as good a time as any for landlords, agents and tenants to make sure they are doing things properly.

“Despite the legal requirement for landlords and letting agents to protect deposits being in place since 2012, some still don’t comply.

“It may be that some don’t know the legislation, or that they are deliberately ignoring it. Either way, the First-tier Tribunal can still apply the full penalty of three times the deposit value for failing to protect it properly.

“The fines imposed by the Tribunal show that it’s a powerful new tool in enforcing deposit protection legislation in Scotland. However, those looking to make use of the resource should be aware that there is a strict three month cut-off point to make applications after the tenancy ends.

“Tenancy deposit protection schemes were set up to protect all parties involved. SafeDeposits Scotland holds deposits and provides a free and impartial adjudication service should there be disagreement about deductions at the end of the tenancy. While deposit protection is a legal requirement for agents and landlords, it is also in their interest to use them to resolve issues through adjudication.”

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