You'd be forgiven for thinking that we've gone straight from summer to winter, but Scottish Autumn climate brings its own unique challenges for tenants, landlords and letting agents when it comes to tenancy deposits.


Recently, our adjudication team looked into a case that highlighted these potential issues and raised key points that everyone in the private rented sector (PRS) should be aware of.

In this situation, the tenant moved into the property in the hot summer months and the check-in report didn't report any issues with the exterior of the property or the garden. In addition, there was also no specific mention of the drains or gutters.

When the tenant moved out of the property in the Autumn, the weather was distinctly different and in the preceding weeks it had been particularly blustery, causing the trees in the garden and surrounding areas to shed their leaves around the property.

When the last inspection of the property was carried out, the landlord identified issues with blocked gutters and drains which these were recorded in the check-out report. In addition, the landlord supplied evidence to support the claims laid out in the report with photographs of the affected areas. The landlord submitted a claim for a deduction from the tenancy deposit in a sum of 100 pounds to clean and clear the gutters and drains; stating that these were the tenant's responsibility.

The tenant responded that they had upheld their end of the tenancy agreement - which confirmed that the garden should be maintained to a 'good standard' - by clearing leaves which had fallen to the ground. They argued that there were no stipulations in the tenancy agreement for them to maintain gutters and drains, pointing out that these were the responsibility of the landlord.

Once all the evidence and statements had been reviewed, SafeDeposits Scotland's adjudication team agreed with the tenant that it was the landlord's responsibility to look after these areas, and did not make any award to the landlord. The tenancy deposit was therefore returned to the tenant.

There were a number of reasons behind the adjudicator's decision in this case. Firstly, the tenancy agreement did not clearly state that the tenant is responsible for the clearing of gutters. Whilst the tenant may be responsible for reporting problems identified within the fabric of the building like heating, the structure or drainage in this case, it remains the landlord's responsibility to fix the problems unless the tenant had caused damage through negligence.

As the landlord is responsible for the drains and guttering, it would be sensible to check the condition of them regularly, especially before the autumn or winter seasons where the weather can cause problems with the exterior of the property.

For landlords and letting agents, we run a range of courses where we discuss real-life examples like this one. Find out more here.

We're also hosting a free tenant conference in Glasgow next week (Saturday 13 October). Find out more here.