Landlords across Scotland not registered with a tenancy deposit protection scheme have one month from today (Monday, April 15) to go until the final sign-up deadline – or risk financial penalties.
Scotland’s leading provider SafeDeposits Scotland and the Scottish Association of Landlords have joined together to urge landlords to sign up before the ultimate deadline for having properties registered.
From May 15 all deposits from privately rented properties must be secured into one of three government approved tenancy deposits protection schemes in Scotland, as part of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011. Registration has been phased in – but from May 15, all eligible properties must be signed up.
Today (Monday) Glasgow based SafeDeposits Scotland is reminding landlords across Scotland that registration is straight forward and by signing up in advance of the deadline landlords can avoid financial penalties.
And the call to sign up before the final deadline is being backed by the Scottish Association of Landlords, which represents the interests of all landlords and letting agents throughout Scotland.
Landlords who don’t sign up by then face having to pay their tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit, if it’s found they have not complied with the regulations. Tenants have up to three months after the tenancy has ended to make an application to the court.
According to research out last month by SafeDeposits Scotland, only one in five (19%) private renters in Scotland knew all deposits need to be safely secured in a protection scheme by the upcoming final deadline of May 15.
Director of Operations at SafeDeposits Scotland, Rebecca Johnston said: “With just a month to go until the final deadline we would encourage landlords to register if they haven’t already. It’s easy to register and helps resolve any disputes at the end of a tenancy. The scheme also means costs of any dispute are covered.
“Those who don’t register risk facing a hefty penalty. You could be sued if found to not have complied with the Regulations and tenants can sue for up to three times the amount of the deposit.”
John Blackwood, Chief Executive of Scottish Association of Landlords, one of SafeDeposits’ members, said: “Many landlords have already signed up to the scheme but those late stragglers could find themselves in trouble. While a great proportion of landlords are registered with the scheme, there are those who are lagging behind, or burying their head in the sand. Come May 15, that will not be an option.”
The scheme was put in place by the Scottish Government to tackle the problem of unfairly held deposits. Annually, tenancy deposits amount to over £74 million in the majority of the 273,000 households that make up the private rented sector in Scotland. It is estimated that up to 11,000 tenants have £3.6 million of their deposits wrongly withheld each year.
Where there is a dispute and it cannot be resolved, tenancy deposit scheme providers ensure the dispute is dealt with fairly, quickly and impartially.
Demand for rental property in Scotland continued to rise in the three months to January 2013, according to the latest RICS residential lettings survey.
The number of landlords placing their properties on the market showed further growth, with a net balance of 25 percent more Scottish chartered surveyors reporting rises in new instructions.
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, one of SafeDeposits’ members, commented: “The lettings market continued to show strong signs in the last quarter to January 2013, with a considerable growth in people looking to rent and increasing numbers of properties being put onto the market. Importantly, as a growing number of people are now entering the rental market, it is imperative that landlords and tenants are aware of the May 15 deadline for all deposits from privately rented properties to be secured into one of three government approved tenancy deposits protection schemes in Scotland.”
Tenancy deposits protection schemes are just one of a number of changes to be brought into the private rented sector in Scotland over the past five years.