Private tenants more aware of deposit protection rights, survey reveals

Victoria Nixon
Victoria Nixon

A survey by tenancy deposit protection scheme SafeDeposits Scotland has found that there is a greater awareness of deposit protection rights among tenants than in 2012, however more needs to be done to educate Scottish renters on their rights and responsibilities.

The 2017 poll, the biggest tenant feedback survey of its kind, found that 26% of tenants in Scotland were unaware that their deposits had to be protected compared to over 75% when it last conducted the research in 2012.

Despite the dramatic improvement, over a quarter (26%) of the 2,900 tenant respondents were unaware that their deposit had to be lodged with a deposit protection scheme by landlords and agents. Using figures published by the Scottish Government last week in the Scottish Household survey, this equates to over 96,000 people across the country unaware of the law set up to protect them.

Landlords and letting agents in Scotland have been required to protect tenants’ deposits in one of three government-backed schemes since the legislation was introduced in 2012. SafeDeposits Scotland is the largest of these and the only one to be based in Scotland.

The survey also found that 39% of those asked don’t know how to claim back their deposits when they move out, equating to 144,300 Scots. Over half (53%) of the tenants surveyed didn’t know that free adjudication services are available if they dispute any deposit deductions when a lease ends.

In response to the findings, SafeDeposits Scotland is in the process of setting up a tenant forum, the first of its kind in Scotland. So far, over 600 of those asked have expressed an interest in being involved.

Victoria Nixon, operations manager at SafeDeposits Scotland, said: “There are more people renting than ever before and it’s imperative that every one of them knows that the law is there to help them.

“Our research has found that 26% of tenants don’t know their deposits have to be protected. While it’s heartening to hear that 74% of those renting in Scotland know what is in place to safeguard their money, everyone should be aware of what should be happening with their deposits.

“When we ran similar research five years ago we found 76% of respondents didn’t know that private tenancy deposits had to be protected in Scotland so while the figures have almost exactly reversed, there is some way to go.

“According to the latest Scottish Government statistics, private renters tend to change addresses more often that home-owners. 83% of renters have been at their current property for less than five years, compared to 24% of owner-occupied homes. If tenants aren’t aware of their rights and the process of reclaiming their deposits, they could be left significantly out of pocket unnecessarily.”

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