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Call for landlord sign-up to deposit scheme issued

New research showing “worryingly” low numbers of Scots aware of deposit scheme deadline prompts call for landlord sign-up

OVER three quarters of people in Scotland are not aware of a scheme to protect tenant’s deposits -despite the final deadline for deposits to be secured being only two months away.
All private landlords and letting agents taking tenancy deposits in Scotland are required to safeguard them with a Government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.
And 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. (1)
But new research commissioned by SafeDeposits Scotland, the only Scottish-based provider of the service and the only not-for-profit, shows more needs to be done to make landlords and tenants aware of the regulations.
The research carried out by TNS-BMRB shows that 76% of all people polled were not aware that “privately rented properties in Scotland now need to be held in a tenancy deposit protection scheme” , while 55 per cent of those renting privately were unaware of the scheme. (2) 
When asked if they knew of the deadline, only one in five (19%) private renters in Scotland knew all deposits need to be safely secured in a protection scheme by the upcoming deadline of May 15. (3)
Landlords who don’t sign up to the scheme face having to pay their tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit, if found to have not complied with the regulations. Tenants have up to three months after the tenancy has ended to make an application to the court.
SafeDeposits Scotland urged landlords across Scotland to make sure they were signed up to the scheme by the May 15 deadline to avoid financial penalties – avoid issues arising when tenants move out.
Director of Operations at SafeDeposits Scotland, Rebecca Johnston: “With just two months to go to the day until all deposits for privately rented properties in Scotland need to be secured in a tenancy deposit scheme, these figures show a worrying low level of awareness.
“It’s important for everyone to know about the scheme, to ensure you can inform family members, children, or friends who are renting privately. Plus, in these difficult times, owner occupiers may find themselves moving into private renting. It’s extremely worrying that such a large number didn’t know about the deadline.”
Recent research from housing charity Shelter Scotland states the private rented sector has almost doubled in size in less than five years – increasing by 98% with more families with children renting privately. In 2010 families with children represented 17% of private renters compared to only 7% in 1999. (4)
Ms Johnston added: “At a time when the private rented sector is growing, we need to provide safe, secure, renting – and the new tenancy deposit protection legislation goes some way towards this – but only if tenants know about their rights. We urge all landlords to sign up to the scheme to make sure their tenant’s deposits are securely held, avoid financial penalties and help to make the private rented sector in Scotland the best in the world.”
“Both landlords and tenants can find information on our website
John Blackwood, Chief Executive of Scottish Association of Landlords, one of SafeDeposits’ members, said: “With just two months to go until the deadline for all eligible deposits to be registered in a tenancy deposit protection service, this is worrying news. 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.”
Where there is a dispute and it cannot be resolved, tenancy deposit scheme providers ensure the dispute is dealt with fairly, quickly and impartially. (5) 
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.

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