Landmark Case Shows Scottish Landlords Must Take Deposit Protection SeriouslyMake Text Bigger
A recent case in Edinburgh Sheriff Court saw a landlord who had failed to protect his tenant’s deposit fined £3,450. This shows that landlords, and their agents, must take seriously their new statutory obligation to lodge tenants’ deposits with one of the approved schemes, and that the courts will take a robust line with those who don’t. Unlike England and Wales, their is no insurance-based alternative in Scotland and hard cash must be handed over.
Not only must landlords lodge the deposit within 30 days of receiving it, they must also pass to their tenant certain prescribed information –
- Confirmation of the amount of the deposit paid by the tenant and the date on which it was received by the landlord;
- The address of the property to which the deposit relates;
- The date on which the deposit was paid to the scheme administrator;
- A statement that the landlord is registered with the local authority;
- The name and contact details of the administrator of the tenancy deposit scheme to which the deposit was paid; and
- The circumstances in which all or part of the tenancy deposit may be retained at the end of the tenancy, with reference to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
The Fraser and Pease-v-Meehan case shows that enforcement of this legislation is very likely to be driven by tenants. Because action can be taken for up to 3 months after the end of a tenancy, tenants are able to do so free of any fear of retribution. Too many tenancies are simply ended by a landlord because the tenant has been bold enough, for instance, to insist that badly needed repairs are carried out, and changing the tenant for a more compliant one a less costly option for a landlord. That is a fundamental weakness in renting legislation. Deposit protection legislation allows former tenants to exercise their rights free of constraint and because of that I think we are likely to see it much more effectively enforced.
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