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What is a tenancy deposit protection scheme?

A tenancy deposit protection scheme is an approved, government-backed scheme that a tenant’s tenancy deposit should be lodged with to ensure that it is protected.  

When a tenant rents from a private landlord or letting agent, their tenancy deposit generally must be stored in one of the government’s approved tenancy deposit schemes for the duration of the tenancy. The landlord needs to do this within 30 working days of the tenancy starting.

There are different approved schemes in England and Wales and in Scotland. The 3 tenancy deposit schemes approved for use in Scotland are:

For more information, read Deposit protection schemes.

Exceptions to the requirement to lodge a deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme

There are some specific circumstances in which a landlord does not have to protect a deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme. These include if:

  • the landlord returns the tenant’s deposit within 30 days of the start of the tenancy

  • the landlord lives with the tenant in the property

  • the landlord is a family member of the tenant

  • the tenant is a ‘liferent’ (ie the tenant has a right to use the property during their lifetime)

  • the property is used by a religious organisation

  • the property is used as a holiday home

  • the property is used as supported accommodation

  •  the tenancy is an agricultural or crofting tenancy

  • the property is subject to control orders

  • the nature of the ownership of the property is transitory (eg it is in the process of being repossessed by a mortgage lender or immediately following the owner’s death)

Prescribed information

The landlord must generally provide the tenant with certain prescribed information about their deposit and its protection within 30 days of the beginning of the tenancy. The required information is:

  • the rental property’s address

  • the amount paid as a deposit

  • the date on which the landlord received the deposit

  • the date which the landlord paid the deposit into the deposit protection scheme

  • the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme into which the deposit was paid

  • a statement by the landlord confirming they are registered (or have applied to be registered) as a landlord

  • the terms under which part or all of the deposit can be retained by the landlord at the end of the tenancy, by reference to the terms of the tenant’s Tenancy agreement

What happens if a landlord doesn’t provide the prescribed information?

If the landlord fails to provide the tenant with the required tenancy deposit information, the tenant should request this information from the landlord.

First, the tenant should send a letter to the landlord reminding them of their responsibility to supply the prescribed information.

If this doesn’t work, the tenant should send a letter to their landlord outlining the sanctions that can be imposed on a landlord for failure to provide the prescribed information. Templates for these letters are available from Shelter Scotland.

What happens if a landlord doesn’t use a tenancy deposit scheme?

If a landlord fails to register a deposit within the prescribed time frame and to provide their tenant with the prescribed information, the tenant can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) for resolution. Such an application can be made during the tenancy or within 3 months following the tenancy’s end. The Housing and Property Chamber can then order the landlord to pay the tenant up to 3 times the amount of the deposit.

Applications can also be made for other, related issues. For example, the landlord’s failure to return a tenant’s deposit at the end of their tenancy.

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