Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed the Scottish government’s new Deposit Protection scheme, saying it will put an end to exploitation of tenants by ‘rogue landlords’.
CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“Scottish CAB advisers have seen many cases over the years where ‘rogue landlords’ have witheld deposits unfairly. People can lose hundreds of pounds in this way. And until now their only course has been to undertake expensive and complex legal action – which most people can’t or won’t do.
“In the year 2009/10 the Scottish CAB service dealt with over 2,200 such cases. It is the biggest single issue that people bring to us in terms of the private housing sector - bigger than rent arrears, for example.
“It is worth saying that most landlords behave fairly. But sadly there are a small but significant number who do not. Until now it has been too easy for them to exploit the holes in the system. This new scheme will put a stop to that.
“The scheme will not harm anyone - if the landlord is genuinely entitled to keep all or part of the deposit then they will be able to do so. Therefore, good landlords have nothing to fear from it. It will however give tenants vital protection from those who will seek to withold deposits unfairly. It is long overdue and we would hope it will receive widespread support.”
For interviews or further information please contact Tony Hutson 0131 550 1010, or 07774 751655.
A number of case studies are given below. These are all anonymous but they have all been reported to CAS by Scottish CABs over the last few months, and as a sample they illustrate the nature of this problem. Unfortunately we do not currently have any ‘named’ case studies.
Examples of recent cases brought to Scottish CABs include the following:
- A client reports that she has been trying to recover her deposit from her previous tenancy for months. The landlord stated that she would get the full amount, but has since come up with a variety of reasons for not paying.
- A client has been refused her tenancy deposit after the landlord wrongly claimed that she never paid a deposit.
- A client has had all of her £750 deposit withheld over two (alleged) cracked tiles in the bathroom.
- A client has had the whole of his £712 deposit with-held for alleged damage to the stair carpet.
- A landlord withheld £1,200 of deposits from four students who had allegedly broken items that were already listed as broken on the inventory.
- A client’s landlord changed letting agency half way through the client’s tenancy, and the new letting agency are taking no responsibility for the client’s original deposit.
- A client reports of problems receiving her £525 tenancy deposit back from the letting agency, who claim that the rug has been soiled and that items are missing from the flat.
- A client with significant health problems needs the deposit from her private tenancy to buy furniture for the social tenancy she has been offered. However, despite the client having only been in the property for six months and no damage being reported, the landlord is withholding the deposit.
- A couple had their £1,400 deposit withheld for damage that they claim was there before they started their tenancy.
- A client had her £600 deposit withheld after she was asked to move out by her landlord due to extensive water damage which was not caused by the client.
- A client paid a £700 holding fee for a flat, but upon moving in discovered that the flat did not have running water. The agency is refusing to refund the client’s money.
- A client had her £250 deposit withheld due to a loose towel rail and an unclean oven. The client stated that the flat was immaculate when she left.
- A client left a bookcase in his tenancy for future tenants to use, but subsequently had his deposit withheld for the cost to the landlord of taking the bookcase to the skip.
- A student from the Czech Republic had his £650 deposit withheld without a reason given, and had a ‘rent’ of £650 ‘mistakenly’ taken from his account after he left. The client has been assured on a number of occasions that this will be returned, but nothing has been done.
- A client was charged £1,200 for damage to a sofa undertaken by her cat (not disputed), but she has found that the sofa is only worth £400.
- A client was charged his deposit plus an additional £270 for repairs to a sink that were needed before the client moved into the tenancy (stated on the inventory).