A surprising number of Scottish tenants don’t know their rights when it comes to claiming back their deposits and that they could be losing out on money, according to a survey conducted by SafeDeposits Scotland.
The results revealed that over a quarter of respondents (26.8%) did not know until receiving a welcome email from the deposit scheme that, by law, their tenancy deposit had to be protected in one of the three SNP Government-backed schemes.
Furthermore, 36.4% stated they do not know how to claim back deposits after moving out of privately rented accommodation, however this represents a 2.9% decrease on responses to the 2017 survey (38.6%).
Over half (55.8%) of respondents to the survey said they were unaware that if they wanted to challenge a landlord’s deductions from their deposit, they could use the free adjudication service.
The Scottish Household Survey, published by the SNP Government in September 2018, reported that there are roughly 280,000 households in the private rented sector. The average deposit protected by SafeDeposits Scotland is £723.
While the majority of tenancies end in agreement between tenants and landlords regarding deductions from deposits, there are some cases where the sum is disputed. In these cases tenants are entitled – by Scots law – to use the free, impartial adjudication service offered by tenancy deposit schemes.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, Victoria Smith, Chief Operating Officer at SafeDeposits Scotland, said:
“Scottish law on tenancy deposits is particularly robust and makes it a legal requirement for landlords to protect their tenants’ deposits. It’s also in the legislation that, if things don’t run smoothly, there’s a process to resolve disputes.
“We are making a concerted effort to educate tenants – as well as landlords and letting agents – across the country about their rights and responsibilities in terms of tenancy deposit protection.
“If a landlord or agent fails to protect a tenant’s deposit within 30-days of the lease starting, they could be liable for up to three times the deposit value in compensation. The recently-introduced First-tier Tribunal, which makes decisions on such cases, has already adjudicated on 40 cases and reprimanded landlords.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The SNP Government introduced the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 to protect tenants’ rights and so far it has proven to be effective.
“However, there is still a small minority who do not live up to their responsibilities as landlords and it is quite worrying to see that over a quarter of all tenants are apparently not advised by their landlords or agents of the obligation to secure their deposits with a third party.
“I would encourage any private tenants as well as landlords in North Ayrshire to visit www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-tenants, which is filled with information about their rights and responsibilities.”
The three tenancy deposit schemes backed by the SNP Government are SafeDeposits Scotland, Letting Protection Service Scotland and mydeposits Scotland.