Tenancy deposit schemes
Private landlords must lodge deposits from tenants with a tenancy deposit scheme to ensure the money is protected until it is due to be repaid.
A landlord may ask a tenant to pay a sum of money at the start of their tenancy which will be held as security. Deposits must now be lodged with an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the tenancy starting.
A tenancy or occupancy agreement should set out the circumstances in which the deposit may be withheld by the landlord. For example, the landlord may decide to keep some or all of a deposit if it is needed to pay for:
- damage the tenant has caused to the property
- cleaning bills if the property has been left in poor condition
- bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills
- any unpaid rent
Tenancy deposit schemes are provided free of charge to guarantee the deposit system is administered fairly by preventing money being withheld unfairly and ensuring any repayments are made quickly.
Every landlord who is required to register as a private landlord and receives a deposit must use a tenancy deposit scheme. This includes landlords of assured and short assured tenancies, university accommodation, as well as various other types of occupancy arrangement.
A letting agent may take a deposit on behalf of a landlord but the landlord is still responsible for complying with the scheme.
There are currently three independent tenancy deposit schemes operating in Scotland which have been approved by The Scottish Government.
Each of the approved schemes provides a free service to resolve disagreements over the return of deposits as an alternative to legal action through the courts.