Scottish scheme set up to protect rental deposits of tenants

Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 01:00

RENT DEPOSITS handed over by tenants to landlords in Scotland will have to be lodged in an independent agency under new rules designed to end disputes.

Lodgment of deposits already paid will be voluntary from today, but all new deposits – including those where tenancies are being renewed – will have to be handed over by landlords to one of three designated agencies from November, or from 30 days after a tenancy is agreed.

The three agencies, SafeDeposits Scotland, Letting Protection Service Scotland and Mydeposits Scotland, will have the power to make rulings in cases where landlord and tenant cannot agree, and will be free for both sides to use.

Up to £75 million (€93 million) in deposits from 275,000 tenants is currently held by landlords.

Scottish housing minister Keith Brown said £3.6 million a year was lost by up to 11,000 tenants when deposits were withheld improperly.

Housing charity Shelter Scotland welcomed the move, saying it had campaigned for it for eight years. However, it warned that it “will only work properly if tenants are diligent and know their rights and landlords and agents embrace the scheme fully”.

President of the National Union of Students Robin Parker said: “This is a great day for tenants and good for landlords. Too often we’ve heard of deposits being withheld or deducted unfairly by a few unscrupulous landlords.

“We’ve worked for many years to get better protection for tenants in private flats and houses, including, of course, the tens of thousands of students who live in the private rented sector.”