Tenancy deposit protection

If you want to read about East Lothian's scheme to help people raise a deposit at the start of a tenancy, see About the Rent Guarantee Scheme.

What is a deposit?

A deposit is money given as security or a guarantee against:

  • damage the tenant may do to the property
  • cleaning bills if the property is left in poor condition
  • non-payment of rent
  • bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills.

Your tenancy agreement should state what the deposit covers; the landlord cannot make deductions at the end of the tenancy for costs (such as bills or unpaid rent) that are not mentioned in it. An inventory should be drawn up before the tenancy starts, so a comparison can be made when the tenancy ends (please see 'About Inventories'). A deposit cannot be used to pay for items damaged by the previous tenant or damaged or worn through normal wear and tear.

How much is a deposit?

A deposit is usually one month’s rent, but can be a maximum of two months’. Landlord and letting agents are not allowed to charge tenants or prospective tenants for drawing up a tenancy agreement or inventory. If you have been charged an illegal fee you may be able to claim it back .If you are struggling to pay the deposit, the Council may be able to help through its Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme .

What is a tenancy deposit scheme?

Most private landlords are required to pay deposits into a tenancy deposit scheme. The tenancy deposit scheme protects your deposit. If there is a dispute about its return at the end of the tenancy, the schemes will assist to resolve it.

The date the deposit must be paid into a scheme varies depending on when it was due. You can check when your deposit must be protected by contacting Shelter Scotland. Your landlord has to register your deposit within 30 days of receiving it (if paid after 2 October 2012) with one of the available schemes.

Registering with a tenancy deposit scheme should not cost you. If you pay a deposit and your landlord doesn't register it, then the Sheriff Court can order him/her to pay you up to three times the amount of the deposit. You can do this up to three month after the tenancy has ended. Your landlord must give you the following information:

  • The amount of the deposit
  • The date they received the deposit and the date they paid the deposit into a scheme
  • Address - of the property that the deposit relates to
  • A statement confirming they are registered
  • The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme where the deposit was paid
  • The conditions under which all, or part, of your deposit can be kept at the end of the tenancy.

There are three tenancy deposit schemes in operation:

How do I get my deposit back?

At the end of the tenancy your landlord will apply to the tenancy deposit scheme to have the deposit repaid. This can include a claim for deductions to be made. You will be contacted by the scheme to find out if you agree with the amount to be returned to you. If there is a dispute over the amount, you can apply to the scheme’s dispute resolution process. It will be referred to an independent adjudicator, who will consider the evidence and come to a decision. If you are not happy with the amount to be returned then you can requestr a review. However, after a review the decision made will be final and binding on both parties.

Further information is available on the Scottish Government website.