Malcolm Cannon: Landlords Must heed deposit rules

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It is fast approaching three years since the introduction of the tenancy deposit scheme (TDS), which, on the whole has been a success.

It is fast approaching three years since the introduction of the tenancy deposit scheme (TDS), which, on the whole has been a success.

At first, there was a reticence from letting agents as they believed they would have no control of deposits on behalf of landlords. But it has given a greater degree of reassurance and protection as agents can successfully hold tenants to account for poorly maintained homes, whilst preventing unscrupulous landlords from making excessive claims.

However, the scheme needs to be regulated correctly and a greater awareness is definitely needed by landlords and tenants alike. If either party breaks the rules then there are consequences, potentially leading to a showdown in the court room and one of the parties being significantly out of pocket. The recent ruling, on the case of (tenant) Jenson v (landlord) Fappiano, is a stark reminder to landlords and tenants that they need to keep up with legislation. The failure of the landlord to put the tenant’s deposit into a TDS for safekeeping meant there were discrepancies when the tenant vacated the property.

While the Sheriff had discretion to take factors into account when deciding an award for non-compliance, ignorance of the regulations or the status of an amateur landlord does not make a landlord exempt from compliance or from the resulting sanctions imposed. As a result, this landlord was ordered to pay the tenant £333.33 for non-compliance.

What is worrying is that not every single private landlord in Scotland is registered under the Landlord Registration scheme, even though they are required to do so, and all I can say is that’s an issue of ignorance or wanton disregard.

There desperately needs to be rigorous enforcement in place to ensure compliance. If not, rogue letting agents are going to carry on without facing penalties and poor practices will continue throughout the sector.

• Malcolm Cannon is the CEO of Braemore