This year - as we do every year - we issued surveys to all tenants, landlords and agents to ask for their views on SafeDeposits Scotland. Customer service is of paramount importance to us, therefore we really do value the feedback of all who use our services. We're grateful for the many compliments we receive and we take on board comments where room for improvement is identified.

As 2018 draws to a close and we look back on the year, we wanted to share with you some key points from the responses we received to our surveys this year. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone - nearly 5,000 people - who took the time to respond to the surveys.

TENANT SURVEY

We start with a point which is more about the private rented sector in general than it is about our service, and it is a very encouraging statistic. When asked "Has your landlord or letting agent provided you with the key information about your tenancy deposit, including confirmation that we hold your deposit?", 92.8% of tenants responded "Yes" - this marks an increase of 10% for the positive answer to this question in 2017, so it is great to see communication between landlords, agents and tenants continually improving.

We also noted a slight increase in the percentage of tenants who answered yes to the question "Do you know how to claim your deposit back after you move out?" - 63.6% of respondents said they know how to claim their deposit back. We would love for this figure to be higher and are committed to improving awareness and education on this subject, through our online platforms and beyond.

Some respondents echoed the above point in response to the question "Are there any changes we could make to help improve our service?":

"Clarity on process how to claim back deposit."


On the other hand, some tenants praised the process when answering the question "What do you like about our service?":

"Easy to find information. How quick and easy it is for the tenants to get our deposits back. I applied to get my near 500 deposit back on Sunday evening and had it in my account on Tuesday morning. Also, I like how secure it is."


LANDLORD AND LETTING AGENT SURVEY

90.06% of respondents told us that our service lived up to their expectations. The most popular reasons for landlords and agents choosing SafeDeposits Scotland as their tenancy deposit scheme were highlighted as us being based in Scotland (74.86%), our easy to understand website (48.62%) and our not-for-profit business model (45.58%).

Our online facilities also fared well in the question "If there are particular aspects of our service that you are happy with, please let us know." - 55.25% of respondents selected our online deposit management system and 50% selected our website here. Also scoring well was the deposit repayment process with 51.66%.

The survey recorded a slight increase in respondents saying they had used our adjudication service to help resolve a dispute over a deposit repayment.

Meanwhile some respondents highlighted the duration of the adjudication process as being an area that could be improved. We - and the other tenancy deposit schemes - are bound by the timescales put in place by the Government. We must follow these and while we cannot expedite the timescale, nor do we exceed it. As with all areas of the scheme though we do continually look for ways to improve the process, to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for all parties involved. In the past year for example, we have implemented a negotiation stage with the aim of avoiding the need for adjudication - this significantly reduces the time taken to resolve disputes and around 35% of cases are now resolved at this early stage.

As we enter 2018 we will maintain the high standards of service that have been recognised by tenants, landlords and letting agents alike, while we continue to innovate and ensure that the scheme is as accessible, easy to use and fair as possible for everyone concerned. We extend our thanks once again to all who participated in this year's surveys and send all readers our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.