How to protect your letting deposit in Scotland
Scottish tenancy deposit guide
Most private landlords and letting agents in Scotland ask for a deposit, either on signing the lease or just before you move to your new rented home. Usually the deposit is equal to one month’s rent; the maximum deposit has been capped at twice the monthly rent.
Your letting agent or a private landlord should register your deposit within 30 days of the start of the tenancy and then transfer it to an approved deposit scheme. There are currently three such licensed institutions operating in Scotland:
- Safe Deposits Scotland (the only scheme based in Scotland)
- MyDeposits Scotland
- Letting Protection Service Scotland
You will receive an email from your landlord or a letting agent with the details of your deposit registration (deposit scheme, property address, amount, dates of receipt and transfer, tenant names). You should also receive another email from your deposit scheme with login details. If you have not received it, contact either the scheme or your letting agent – they may have made a mistake in your email address and the deposit scheme should have valid email addresses of lead tenants.
So what should you do to keep your deposit?
Firstly, if you did not get an email regarding the deposit, contact your letting agent and ask them to investigate this issue.
Second, on arrival, check the condition of the property and compare against the inventory. If you are not sure you have received an inventory from your letting agent, ask for one. If they don’t produce one, they will not be able to deduct any charges in relation to the condition from your deposit. You will usually have 7 days to report any alterations and omission. Pay attention to the cleanliness level described in the inventory and compare it with your findings within the flat. If it says ‘professionally cleaned’ or ‘cleaned up to a professional level’, there should be no need for any additional cleaning. What you need to check:
- Mattresses for stains, both sides.
- Walls for dents and holes.
- Floors, tiles, worktops for chips and scratches.
- Light bulbs.
Note any discrepancies, take photos and inform your property manager within the prescribed period.
Think about your tenancy deposit before the checkout
Before your departure you should note any cleaning instructions received from your lettings agents. Take photos of both gas and electricity meters and notify your providers. If you move out before your lease expires, you may still be liable for council tax. Remember to pay your last rent or pro-rata payment – and do not forget to cancel your standing order! In our experience the most frequent deductions are for cleaning and burnt out light bulbs – so please replace all burnt out light bulbs before you move out.
The professional cleaners’ can be costly, so to protect your deposit don’t leave the rented property dirty. Follow the cleaning instructions received from your letting agent – and do not forget about cleaning the washing machine (soap compartment, drum and seal), oven, hood filters, cabinet drawers. Clean the windows, inside and outside. And do not leave anything for the next tenant – even if you think it may come in handy – without the landlord’s permission. Remember – removal of abandoned items may cost a small fortune.
Types of deposit deductions
- Damage (beyond reasonable wear and tear) – usually as deductions for repair, replacement or damage approximation.
- Unpaid bills (gas, electricity, cleaning of communal stairwell etc.).
- Rent arrears (unpaid rent).
- Removal of abandoned items.
Deposit release in Scotland
The letting agent / landlord should ask the chosen deposit scheme to release the deposit within 30 days of the lease expiry date. It is a good practice to notify former tenants about deposit deductions – Note that agents cannot let you back to clean the property after the lease expires. After all, when you move out, you have extinguished your rights to enter your former home.
Deposit disputes and adjudication
If you do not agree with the deductions, ask your agents for an explanation. They should provide cleaning bills, invoices for replaced damaged items and damage approximations. Try to negotiate and be reasonable – if you cannot find an agreeable solution, you may dispute some or all of the charges. The case will then be forwarded to an independent adjudicator. Undisputed funds will be returned, and your agent will have to prove that all deductions were reasonable. You will have a chance to submit your evidence. The burden of proof lies on the landlord / letting agent, as the deposit belongs to the tenant. The adjudication process can take a considerable amount of time, so always try to negotiate with your agent first.