Tenants, when you move into a rented property, most landlords or letting agents will ask you for a deposit. A deposit is a sum of money taken from a tenant which acts as a guarantee against damage to the property, unpaid rent, and cleaning costs if the property has been left in poor condition. The deposit cannot be used to replace items that are damaged, or worn, due to normal wear or tear.
What are the tenancy deposit rules?
To give you a bit of background, The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 were introduced in Scotland on 7th March 2011. To comply with the Regulations, any landlord or letting agent in receipt of a tenancy deposit must:
- Transfer the deposit to a government-approved scheme, such as SafeDeposits Scotland, within 30 working days of the tenancy start date; and
- Provide all tenants on the tenancy agreement with particular key information, including confirmation of which scheme holds the deposit and when all or part of the deposit may be retained at the end of the tenancy.
Tenancy Deposit Amount
The amount that can be charged as a deposit cannot be more than two months’ rent.
For example, if the rent is £500 a month,your landlord or letting agent cannot ask for more than a £1000 deposit from you.
Lodging a Tenancy Deposit
Once you’ve paid the deposit for the property, your landlord or letting agent must lodge it with a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) within 30 working days of the beginning of the tenancy.
There are three tenancy deposit scheme providers to choose from in Scotland:
If your landlord doesn’t lodge your deposit or give you this information, you can contact them and ask them to do it. If they still do not lodge your deposit or give you the information, you can make an application to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). The Tribunal can order the landlord to pay you up to three times the amount of the deposit. You can do this during the tenancy or up to three months after the tenancy has ended
Returning the deposit
When a tenancy ends your landlord or letting agent has to get in touch with the tenancy deposit scheme provider and ask for the deposit to be returned. The landlord or letting agent should do this as soon as they can after the tenancy ends. The deposit should be repaid to you automatically when the landlord states they are not due any money from it.
Tenancy Deposit Disputes
At the end of a tenancy, a landlord and tenant should always try to agree on any deductions from a tenant’s deposit. If agreements can’t be reached, the schemes offer a free dispute resolution service where an independent adjudicator looks at evidence from both tenant and landlord within specified timescales. The adjudicator will decide on how the deposit should be returned. It’s usually the landlord (or agent) who submits a repayment proposal, but the tenant can make an application too.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
If the landlord and tenant can’t agree on how the deposit should be repaid, a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme can provide an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process to help decide how any disputed amount should be repaid. This is an alternative to the tenant taking legal action for the recovery of a deposit through the First-Tier Tribunal (FTT).
If a dispute is referred to ADR, the tenancy deposit scheme will invite the landlord to submit evidence to substantiate their claim to the deposit. The tenant will then be invited to view any evidence submitted and provide a statement and any evidence that they may have in response. The submissions provided by both parties will be passed to an independent adjudicator who will decide how any disputed amount should be awarded.
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Resources: My Deposits Scotland and The Scottish Government Website