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Tenants FAQ

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011

What do the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 mean for landlords?

Any tenancy deposit accepted by a landlord must be transferred to an approved tenancy deposit scheme, such as SafeDeposits Scotland, within 30 working days of the beginning of the tenancy.

The landlord must also provide the tenant with certain key information, including confirmation of which scheme holds the deposit, within the same time period.

What information must be given to the tenant?

There is set information which must be provided to the tenant under the Regulations. SafeDeposits Scotland has produced a template document, called the Prescribed Information form, to help landlords with this step. The Prescribed Information form includes: the name of the landlord; the landlord's registration status; the name of the tenant; the property address; the amount of the deposit; the date the deposit was received by the landlord; the date the deposit was paid to a scheme; and the circumstances under which all or part of the deposit may be retained at the end of the tenancy.

What happens if a landlord does not comply with the Regulations?

Should a landlord fail to protect deposits and/or provide the set information in accordance with the Regulations, tenants can apply to the Sheriff Court for sanctions against the landlord. If the Sheriff is satisfied that the landlord has failed to comply with the Regulations, they must order the landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit. In addition they may order the landlord to submit the deposit to an approved scheme.

A tenant has up to three months after the tenancy has ended to make an application to the court for sanctions against the landlord.

What do the Regulations mean for letting agents?

If a tenant pays a tenancy deposit to a letting agent, the deposit must still be transferred to an approved tenancy deposit scheme and the set information provided.

However, the duties in relation to tenancy deposits apply to landlords, as the person requiring the deposit, and so it is in the interests of landlords who employ a letting agent to satisfy themselves that the agent is acting in accordance with the Regulations. Any financial sanctions for non-compliance will apply to the landlord, even if a letting agent has been acting on their behalf.

About SafeDeposits Scotland

What is SafeDeposits Scotland?

SafeDeposits is an independent tenancy deposit scheme approved by the Scottish Government. SafeDeposits Scotland holds the deposit during the tenancy in order to keep it safe and to make sure it is available to be returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy, if they have met the terms of their tenancy agreement. SafeDeposits Scotland also offers an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process if landlords and tenants cannot agree on how the deposit should be repaid at the end of the tenancy.

Is SafeDeposits Scotland free to use?

Yes. SafeDeposits Scotland is funded entirely from the interest earned on deposits held, and landlords, letting agents and tenants do not have to pay any fees to take part in the scheme.

What is the SafeDeposits Scotland Trust?

The SafeDeposits Scotland Trust is a grant giving charity designed to promote education, training and best practice in Scotland's private rented sector.

How are the deposits held and protected?

SafeDeposits Scotland will hold the deposit in a ring-fenced account until it is due to be repaid at the end of the tenancy. This means that the deposit will be safe, even if a landlord or letting agents goes out of business.

The deposit is held seperately from SafeDeposits' own funds and is therefore protected against any claim from SafeDeposits or any of its creditors should SafeDeposits fail. This means that the deposit is protected and available for repayment or transfer to another scheme if necessary.

Under the Financial Services Authority Compensation Scheme a landlord could make a claim to the FSA for the value of the deposit (up to 85,000) if SafeDeposits becomes insolvent.

Who can use SafeDeposits?

SafeDeposits is available to all landlords who are required to comply with the Regulations, and any letting agents acting on behalf of landlords in relation to the tenancy deposit.

How to use SafeDeposits Scotland

What should the tenant expect?

If you are required to pay a deposit at the beginning of a tenancy, then you should still pay this to the landlord or letting agent, as before the Regulations came into force. It is then the responsibility of the landlord or letting agent to pay your deposit into one of the approved tenancy deposit schemes, such as SafeDeposits Scotland.

When a landlord or letting agent has registered a deposit with SafeDeposits Scotland and paid the deposit to us, a Deposit Protection Certificate will be sent to the landlord, letting agent and all tenants named on the deposit account.

The Deposit Protection Certificate provides confirmation that SafeDeposits Scotland protects the deposit.

You should also receive specific information from your landlord, including: landlord details; the address of the property; the full amount paid to SafeDeposits Scotland; and the circumstances in which all or part of the tenancy deposit may be retained at the end of the tenancy.

How long will it take to receive my Deposit Protection Certificate?

The Deposit Protection Certificate will be sent once the payment has been allocated to the relevant deposit account on our system. It can take 2-3 working days for our accounts department to allocate the payment.

If we have an email address for the landlord, tenant and letting agent, the Deposit Protection Certificate will be sent automatically by email. If we don't have an email address for any of the parties, we will send the Deposit Protection Certificate in the post.

Who is the lead tenant?

The lead tenant is specified on your Deposit Protection Certificate.

If there is more than one tenant on the tenancy agreement, the landlord or letting agent will nominate one of the tenants as the lead tenant. The lead tenant will act on behalf of all joint tenants at the end of the tenancy during the repayment process. We advise that the landlord discusses the nomination of the lead tenant with all tenants before creating the deposit account.

The lead tenant is responsible for managing the repayment process and it is only their unique Deposit Repayment Number (DRN) which will allow them to access the relevant repayment options at the end of the tenancy.

The lead tenant can be changed during the tenancy. The landlord or letting agent can contact us at any time to nominate a new lead tenant.

What should I do after I receive my Deposit Protection Certificate?

Please check over your Deposit Protection Certificate and make sure that the information it contains is correct. If any of the details are incorrect, please contact us as soon as possible to correct the information.

If you have received your Deposit Protection Certificate by post, this is because we do not hold an email address for you. If you have an email address, please log in to your online user account as soon as possible to update your contact information. If you do not have an email address, please remember that we will need your forwarding address when the tenancy ends so we can contact you regarding the deposit repayment.

Why do you need my email address?

When the tenancy comes to an end, we need to be able to contact you regarding the deposit repayment. If the landlord or letting agent starts the repayment process, we require a response from you within 30 working days. If the 30 working days pass with no response, the deposit will automatically be repaid as per the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent. If we are unable to contact you after the tenancy has ended, the repayment request may 'time out' before you are able to respond to agree or disagree with how the landlord or letting agent has requested the deposit be repaid.

We do not pass contact details on to any third parties, and we will not share your contact details with your landlord or letting agent.

What is my Deposit Account Number (DAN)?

Every deposit account on our system is assigned a unique Deposit Account Number (DAN). This number identifies the deposit on our system. The landlord, tenant(s), and letting agent, if there is one, share the same DAN.

The DAN is on the Deposit Protection Certificate which is sent to all parties when the deposit is first transferred to SafeDeposits.

If you need to contact us regarding your deposit, please quote your DAN.

What is my Deposit Repayment Number (DRN)?

As well as a DAN, we send every tenant an individual Deposit Repayment Number (DRN). The DRN is the unique password for your user account with SafeDeposits Scotland, and will let you log in to update your personal details, participate in the repayment process, provide your repayment details, etc.

The DRN is your personal password. You should not share this number with any of your flatmates. The repayment process can be delayed if tenants log in with the incorrect DRN.

The DRN is on the letter or email which accompanied your Deposit Protection Certificate. If you have lost your DRN, please use the 'Forgotten DRN?' function on our website or contact us by telephone, email or via our Live Chat function.

Can I use my flatmate's Deposit Repayment Number (DRN)?

No. Every tenant receives a unique DRN for their personal account with SafeDeposits Scotland. If you log in with someone else's DRN, you will not access your own account. The repayment process can be delayed if tenants log in with the incorrect DRN.

Please remember to double-check you are using your own DRN before you log in to our website. For example, if the landlord or letting agent has accidentally entered your email address against your flatmate's name, you will be sent their DRN, but their name will be at the top of the email.

If you have lost your DRN, please use the 'Forgotten DRN?' function on our website or contact us by telephone, email or via our Live Chat function.

During the tenancy

What should I do if any of my details change?

You can log in to your user account using the DAN and your DRN to update your details in the 'Edit my details' section of your user account.

Alternatively you can phone us, email us, or use our Live Chat function, and an advisor can update your details on your behalf.

If only one tenant is moving out, how do they get their deposit back?

We have a tenant changeover function on our website to be used when only one tenant is moving out of the property. The landlord or letting agent must log in to their user account to confirm which tenant is moving out and how much of the deposit is due to them. We will then contact the outgoing tenant for confirmation of their agreement and to ask for their repayment details. If the outgoing tenant agrees to the tenant changeover request, we will repay them their portion of the deposit, and the remainder of the deposit will automatically be moved into a new deposit account.

We have a guide on our website which explains the tenant changeover process step-by-step, including screenshots of what you can expect to see on-screen at each stage.

I have agreed to the tenant changeover request from my landlord or letting agent, so why haven't I received my deposit?

When you agree to the tenant changeover request, we send an automatic alert to the landlord or letting agent to ask them to complete the tenant changeover process. They can do this by logging in to their user account and confirming if any new tenants have moved in and what the new deposit amount should be. We cannot make repayment to you until the landlord or letting agent has completed this step.

If your flatmate has also been sent a tenant changeover request, but they have not responded yet, we are unable to continue with the tenant changeover process until they do.

While we do alert all parties at every step of the process, if you have responded to the tenant changeover request but the process hasn't moved forward, it may help if you contact your landlord, letting agent or flatmate to remind them to complete their step.

What happens if a tenant passes away during the tenancy?

The landlord or letting agent should contact us as soon as possible to provide the name and contact details for the person who is acting on behalf of the tenant. We will contact the tenant's representative to ask for a copy of the death certificate and to ask for confirmation that they are acting on behalf of the tenant. We can then add the representative to the deposit account and they can participate in the repayment process on behalf of the tenant. We are happy to provide assistant or complete the repayment process on behalf of the tenant's representative, if requested.

The deposit repayment process

How is the deposit repaid at the end of the tenancy?

When the tenancy comes to an end, the landlord (or the letting agent, if there is one) should discuss the deposit repayment with the tenant, to reach an agreement on how the deposit should be repaid. Either the landlord, letting agent or the lead tenant can then log in to their SafeDeposits Scotland user account and enter a Proposal for Deposit Repayment which breaks down how the deposit should be repaid (i.e. if the full amount should be repaid to the tenant, or if any should be repaid to the landlord or letting agent). We will send a copy of the proposal to the other party to ask if they agree or disagree and to ask for their repayment details (if necessary).

If both parties are in agreement, we will process the repayment as agreed within 5 working days of receiving agreement. If there is a dispute over any deductions to the deposit, the dispute can be referred to our alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.

The deposit repayment process does not start automatically - either the landlord, letting agent or lead tenant must enter a Proposal for Deposit Repayment to confirm the tenancy has come to an end.

How long does the deposit repayment process take?

When either the landlord, letting agent or lead tenant enters a Proposal for Deposit Repayment, the other party has 30 working days to respond to agree or disagree. The 30 working day period is set by the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.

If both parties are in agreement, the deposit will be repaid within 5 working days of agreement.

The deposit repayment process will be much faster were all parties participate and the Proposal for Deposit Repayment is entered and responded to as soon as poossible.

I've logged in with the DAN and my DRN but I can't see the 'Respond to proposal' option - how do I respond to the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent?

If the 'Respond to proposal' option is not available when you log in, you are either not the lead tenant or you have used the wrong DRN. Every tenant receives a unique DRN and the lead tenant must log in with their own to access the 'Request repayment' and 'Respond to proposal' options.

Please double-check that you are using your own DRN to log in. If you are not the lead tenant, please ask them to log in with their own DRN to respond on behalf of the joint tenants.

Why has another tenant received their share of the deposit but I haven't received mine?

How the deposit is repaid depends on the Proposal for Deposit Repayment which has been entered. For example, did the proposal specify that the deposit should be repaid to one tenant, or split between joint tenants?

If the proposal specifies that the deposit should be split between joint tenants, we require all tenants to log in with the DAN and their individual DRN to add their bank details to the 'Edit my details' section of their user account. If you have not logged in and entered your bank details we have no way to repay you your portion of the deposit.

I moved out of the property months ago - why haven't I received my deposit?

The deposit repayment process does not start automatically. We don't know if a tenancy has come to an end until either the landlord, letting agent or lead tenant logs in to their user account and enters a Proposal for Deposit Repayment.

You can check the status of your deposit by logging in to your user account using the DAN and your individual DRN. If the deposit status is 'Deposits held' this means that a Proposal for Deposit Repayment has not been entered yet. If you are the lead tenant, you can enter a Proposal for Deposit Repayment by selecting the 'Request repayment' option through your user account. If you are not the lead tenant, you should contact the lead tenant or the landlord or letting agent to ask one of the parties to start the repayment process.

What happens if I agree to the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the other party?

If you log in and agree to the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the other party, an automatic notification will be sent to the other party to let them know you have agreed. The deposit will then be repaid as agreed within 5 working days.

What happens if I don't agree with the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent?

If you don't agree with the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent, and are the lead tenant, you can disagree and enter an alternative Proposal for Deposit Repayment through your user account. You will have the option to refer the dispute to our alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process at the same time as entering your response.

What happens if I don't respond to the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent?

If you don't respond to the Proposal for Deposit Repayment entered by the landlord or letting agent within the allocated 30 working days, the deposit will automatically be repaid as per their Proposal for Deposit Repayment.

We will process any amount due to the landlord or letting agent within 5 working days. We will hold any amount due to you for a further six years, after which time it will be passed to the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer. You can contact us at any time during this period to provide your repayment details.

The disputes process

What is the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process?

If there is a dispute about how the deposit should be repaid, we provide an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process to help decide how any disputed amount should be repaid. This is an alternative to the tenant taking legal action for recovery of a deposit through the court.

If a dispute is referred to ADR, we will invite the landlord or letting agent to submit evidence to substantiate their claim to the deposit. The tenant will then be invited to view any evidence submitted and provide a statement and any evidence which they may have in response. The submissions provided by both parties will be passed to an impartial adjudicator who will decide how any disputed amount should be awarded.

We have published further guidance on ADR, including what the process involves, how best to present your claim, and what type of evidence the adjudicator looks for, in the Guidance documents sections of our website.

How much does it cost to use the ADR process?

The ADR process is free to use for landlords, letting agents and tenants.

How long does the ADR process take?

The ADR process can take anywhere from eight to twelve weeks to be concluded. This depends on whether parties choose to use the maximum time allocated to them or if a party chooses to progress their stage early. For example, both the landlord and the tenant are allowed 10 working days to submit their evidence, but, if they submit their evidence before then, they can ask for this stage to be moved on earlier.

As the ADR process does take a considerable time, we ask that it is only used as a last resort. We find that most landlords and tenants can come to an agreement without the need for third party intervention.

Why does the landlord or letting agent have to submit their evidence first?

When a dispute is referred to ADR, an adjudicator's starting position mirrors that of the courts: the deposit is first and foremost the tenant's money, unless the landlord can justify their claim to it. The onus is therefore on the landlord to show why they are entitled to claim money from the deposit.

Will the adjudicator visit the property?

No. The adjudication process is not investigative. Adjudication is based on the evidence presented by the parties. We do not hold a hearing, interview either party or visit the tenancy property.

I didn't pay my rent because the landlord didn't fulfil their obligations (for example, repairs were not carried out) - will the adjudicator take this into account?

No. The deposit is protection for the landlord in case the tenant breaks any of the obligations in their tenancy agreement. If the tenant raises issues which are intended to be a counter-claim against their landlord, they must pursue it with the landlord directly and seek independent legal advice should this be necessary. We are unable to take account of any issues raised in a possible counter-claim when deciding how the disputed amount should be allocated.

If a tenant feels that a landlord has not fulfilled their obligations, we suggest that the tenant contacts Shelter, Citizen's Advice or the Private Rented Housing Panel for further information and advice.