A recent court order has highlighted the need for landlords and letting agents to be aware and act on Scottish deposit protection laws.
A landlord, acting through an agent, let out his property for an initial six month period commencing on 31 January 2013. The tenant paid a deposit of £380 but it wasn’t protected until August 2014 more than a year and half more than the required 30 working days from the start of the tenancy to protect and serve the Prescribed Information (PI).
Once the tenant vacated the property, the deposit was repaid after which the tenant then sought a sanction for non-compliance with the regulations.
In court, the Sherriff decided that the sanction should be ‘fair, proportionate and just’ having regard to the seriousness of non-compliance. There was nothing to suggest that the landlord hadn’t protected the deposit deliberately and the deposit had been returned. But the landlord hadn’t complied with the regulations so the judge ordered that a £500 penalty be paid for the breach. A hefty sum for any landlord to incur.
The penalty is less than the case that we reported on in 2014 as the Sherriff decided that the breach wasn’t because of ignorance on the landlord’s part. However, it is another stark reminder of the sanctions that landlords can face for non-protection of deposits.
What should the landlord have done differently?
By protecting the deposit and serving the Prescribed Information within 30 working days of the tenancy start date, the landlord would have avoided the risk of any proceedings. It’s as simple as that.
It’s simple to sign-up and protect
Landlords and letting agents in Scotland can sign up completely free of charge either online, on the phone or by post. (The quickest way is online).
You can then log into your online account and protect your tenants deposit twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Once it’s protected you then need to serve the Prescribed Information which lets your tenant know where the deposit is protected, the amount of the deposit, contact details of the scheme and further important information.
At the end of the tenancy and after you’ve discussed the return of the deposit with your tenant, you then need to authorise the release of it by logging into your online account. We’ll then let your tenant know that you’ve authorised the release, get them to confirm the amount and allocate the money accordingly.
You can find out more information and the steps that are involved when protecting and unprotecting your tenants deposit here and take a look at our dedicated page for more information on how to comply with tenancy deposit protection law here.