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MSPs told rogue landlords are 'exploiting tenants' over deposits

4 Jun 2013

‘Unscrupulous and exploitative’ landlords are ignoring a new law which requires them to register and protect their tenants’ deposits. This is according to a motion being debated at the Scottish Parliament today, in response to a campaign by the Scottish CAB service.

The new Tenancy Deposit Scheme legally requires all private landlords to register their deposits, in order to ensure the tenants get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy. But last week it was revealed that only 50% of deposits had been registered under the scheme, and many landlords are still refusing to give tenants their deposit back without adequate reason.

Last month Glasgow Central CAB ran a campaign to highlight the issue, which prompted Green MSP Patrick Harvie to lodge the motion (see below), which is being debated today. Citizens Advice Scotland have published a briefing for the debate, which outlines the scale of the problem across Scotland. The key points in the briefing are:

  • The private rented housing sector represents just 11% of all housing in Scotland, but accounts for 27% of all housing enquiries to Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux.
  • 14% of all private rented housing enquiries brought to the CAB are about deposits.
  • In 2011 the Scottish government introduced the Tenancy Deposits Scheme, which requires all private landlords to register their deposits with a third party, who would then decide at the end of the tenancy whether the tenant should get it back.
  • Last week it was revealed that 50% of deposits have not been registered. Meanwhile a survey by Safe Deposits Scotland has shown that 55% of tenants are unaware that their landlords are legally required to register deposits.

Ahead of today’s debate, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Head of Policy Susan McPhee says:

“Despite the new law, CAB advisers across Scotland continue to see many cases of people who have had their deposits unfairly with-held by landlords and letting agents. The excellent campaign run by Glasgow Central CAB last month has raised awareness of the issue, and we are very pleased to see MSPs debating it today. However this is not just an issue in Glasgow but across the whole of Scotland.   

“The Tenancy Deposit Scheme was introduced in 2011 to address this problem, but still only half of deposits are being registered. In order to ensure that the new regulations do what they set out to achieve, there needs to be better enforcement and better support for tenants taking action on this issue. Hopefully today’s debate will focus attention on this issue, making landlords aware of their responsibilities and tenants aware of their rights.”

Citizens Advice Scotland have joined with the Scottish government and other agencies to create an information site for private sector tenants and landlords at: www.RentingScotland.org.

For more information, interviews etc, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.

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