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More than a third of tenants don’t know how to claim their deposit back

A high number of private tenants do not know how to claim their deposit back, a new survey has revealed.

Research by SafeDeposits Scotland found that 36.4% of tenants do not know how to claim their deposit back after moving out of privately rented accommodation, with more than half - 55.8% - of renters unaware that they can use a free service to challenge any deductions landlords make from their deposit.

The survey, the largest of its kind, with more than 4,500 Scottish tenants taking part, also revealed that over a quarter - 26.8% - did not initially know that their tenancy deposit had to be legally protected in a government-backed scheme.

The Scottish Household Survey, published by the Scottish government in September 2018, reported that there are roughly 280,000 households in the private rented sector. The average deposit protected by SafeDeposits Scotland is £723.

Victoria Smith, chief operating officer at SafeDeposits Scotland, said: “Scottish law on tenancy deposits is particularly robust and makes it a legal requirement for landlords to protect their tenants’ deposits.

“It’s also in the legislation that, if things don’t run smoothly, there’s a process to resolve disputes.

“Our survey is the biggest one of its kind ever done in Scotland since tenancy deposit legislation was implemented in 2012 and the figures show that a considerable number of tenants don’t know what’s in place to make sure that not only is their money protected, but there’s recourse if there are any problems.”

SafeDeposits Scotland is now planning to step up its efforts to ‘educate’ tenants, as well as landlords and letting agents, across the country, to help make them aware of their rights and responsibilities in terms of tenancy deposit protection.

Smith added: “Tenants who don’t know what’s in place to make sure their deposit money is protected could be left out of pocket by landlords or agents who don’t comply with the legislation, or who make unsubstantiated claims. The majority of landlords abide by the law but there is a small group who disregard their legal responsibilities.

“If a landlord or agent fails to protect a tenant’s deposit within 30-days of the lease starting, they could be liable for up to three times the deposit value in compensation.

“The recently-introduced First-tier Tribunal, which makes decisions on such cases, has already adjudicated on 40 cases and reprimanded landlords.”

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