Research by NUS Scotland shows that a third of students believe their deposit has been unfairly withheld by a landlord at some point.
Cleaning costs are the most commonly contested issues between landlords and tenants, accounting for 38% of all deposit disputes.
The Scottish Government’s own research estimates that up to £3.6 million in deposits is being wrongly withheld from students and other tenants in the private rented sector.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:
“Landlords who withhold deposits unfairly cause hardship to thousands of students as they attempt to move between tenancies. In order to achieve a transparent and fair system for students and indeed all private rent tenants across Scotland, Shelter Scotland has played a lead role in pushing for a tenancy deposit scheme which was passed in the last Parliament.”
He added: “Of course, the scheme is also there to protect landlords, who in some cases are entitled to withhold deposits, or part of them, to recover losses for damage to their properties. The introduction of a tenancy deposit scheme would be of benefit to both sides.”
Unlike many other countries, Scotland has no regulation of rental deposits in the private rented sector. Although a tenancy deposit scheme is due to be in place in 2012, until it is implemented the balance of power remains with landlords.
When the tenancy deposit scheme is implemented, all deposits will be held by an impartial third party. At the end of a tenancy, landlords should inform the scheme if any of the money needed to be held to cover damages or unpaid bills, and the rest would be returned to the tenant. If there is a dispute, the scheme is in place to offer arbitration.
Graeme Brown added:
“Until the tenancy protection scheme is up and running, students are left vulnerable to the very real threat of homelessness due to a lack of funds to secure their next property.”
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