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Scottish Students Win Deposit Tribunal Case against Landlord

A landlord in Glasgow who refused to return a tenant deposit now has to pay Glasgow students, Rhona MacKintosh and Laura Pollock, almost double the amount of their deposit.

Ajitpal Dhillon, who owns at least 15 properties in the city, was ordered by a housing tribunal in February 2021 to pay the young women approximately £2800. MacKintosh and Pollock started their tenancy after paying the £1395 deposit in May 2019 and their contract was for 13 months. However, the two decided to leave the rental property after the first COVID-19 lockdown as they lost their part-time jobs and were having a difficult time paying the rent.

Living Rent, Scotland’s national tenants’ union, came to the young women’s rescue and helped them through the process. MacKintosh and Pollock got in touch with them after Dhillon did not return the deposit and refused to communicate and meet with them.

The legal proceedings took six months to finish, concluding with The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland – Housing and Property Chamber awarding the young tenants with the £2800. There was also strong evidence that Dhillon neglected his landlord duties and did not follow tenancy deposit regulations.

During the proceedings, the guilty landlord admitted to the tribunal that MacKintosh and Pollock’s case was not an isolated one. So, the young women were right to get in touch with other tenants whose experiences with Dhillon were similar to theirs. According to them, the landlord followed a pattern. He would rent out properties with affordable or below average rates and once the tenants settled in, Dhillon would disappear and become uncommunicative as soon as issues such as repairs, documents, and deposits were asked of him.

Pollock said the reason they decided to actively pursue action against their landlord was to ensure Dhillon would be held accountable for his negligent actions and that no other tenant would have to suffer what they went through.

For her part, MacKintosh said that although the legal process was challenging and lengthy, they were able to pull through because of the help of Living Rent. Taking Dhillon to court was the right thing to do because it was where tenants and landlords are supposed to be safe and protected.

MacKintosh and Pollock’s situation is common nowadays, with the pandemic leading to people losing jobs and struggling, and with Scotland poised to go through recession.

Dhillon is just one of the many rogue landlords throughout Europe who have no regard for landlord and tenant laws.

Tenant deposit protection scheme

One of the major responsibilities of landlords is to secure their tenants’ deposit through a government-approved protection scheme. A tenant’s deposit is an assurance against unpaid bills and rent, property damage, and leaving the rental home in poor condition. If a tenant ends the tenancy with any of these situations happening, the landlord can use the deposit money to cover for the expenses.

In Scotland, tenants are required to pay a deposit equivalent to a maximum of two months’ rent. After tenants pay the deposit, landlords have to register it with a government-approved tenancy scheme within 30 days after the tenancy agreement commenced.

Scotland has three tenancy deposit schemes (TDS) to choose from:

  • my|deposits Scotland
  • Letting Protection Service Scotland
  • SafeDeposits Scotland

Landlords are then required to provide their tenants the following information:

  • Deposit amount and date it was received
  • Complete address of the rental property
  • Date when the deposit was paid and registered into the TDS
  • TDS provider name and contact information
  • Tenancy deposit conditions
  • What the sanctions are for late deposits

There are several situations where the landlord is not required to register the deposit in any tenancy deposit protection schemes. These include:

  • The property home is a holiday home
  • The landlord and tenants are family members
  • A religious organisation uses the property
  • The tenant had the right to use the property for their lifetime (a liferent)
  • The rental property is: a crofting or agricultural tenancy, a supported accommodation, and subjected to control orders
  • The rental property is a short-term one or transitory ownership
  • The landlord also resides in the rental property

Returning the deposit

At the end of a tenancy, landlords are required to contact the TDS provider to request for a deposit return. They should inform the provider if the amount should be returned in its entirety or if there are deductions to be made or how much should go to them. Tenants are informed and asked to agree with the deposit return application and expected to agree in 30 days or less.

The deposit is then repaid to the tenants as soon as landlords inform the provider that the tenants do not owe them money.

If the landlord does not protect tenant deposit

There are cases where the landlord has not protected tenants’ deposit, and this is what you should be careful with. You have the right to file for a deposit protection compensation claim if your landlord does not protect or return your deposit. Find a group of solicitors who are experienced and experts at tenancy deposit laws as they can help you work through the requirements and the legal process, just like what the Mackintosh and Pollock experienced.

The expert solicitors at Tenancy Deposit Claims know exactly what to do to increase your chances of filing a tenancy deposit protection claim.

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