A deposit is a sum of money which acts as a guarantee against:
- damage you, as a tenant, may do to the property
- any unpaid rent.
- cleaning bills if you have left the property in poor condition
- bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills
Landlords and letting agents can ask for the equivalent of up to two months' rent for a deposit.
Deposits cannot be used to replace items that are damaged, or worn, due to normal wear and tear. For example, worn carpets and furniture.
Tenancy deposit schemes
If you rent from a private landlord or letting agent then a tenancy deposit scheme is where your deposit will be held for the length of your tenancy.
The tenancy deposit schemes are run by independent companies which are approved by the Scottish Government. Currently there are three approved schemes:
Within 30 working days of the tenancy beginning your landlord must give you the following information about your deposit:
- How much - confirm the amount of the deposit.
- Dates - the date they received the deposit and the date they paid the deposit into a scheme.
- Address - of the property that the deposit relates to.
- Landlord registration - a statement from your landlord confirming they are registered.
- Which scheme - contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme where the deposit was paid.
- Terms - the conditions when deductions from the deposit can be made.
When you get this information from your landlord double check it to make sure it is correct.
My deposit is not registered
If your landlord or letting agent hasn't sent you the required tenancy deposit information use these letters to ask your landlord for the required information.
If you have paid a deposit and your landlord has not registered it, then you can apply to the sheriff court, via a summary application, and the court can order the landlord to pay you up to three times the amount of the deposit paid. You can do this up to three months after the tenancy has ended.
Getting your deposit back
When your tenancy comes to an end your landlord will apply to the tenancy deposit scheme for the repayment of the deposit. They will include details of any deductions and the amount of the deposit to be returned. You will be contacted by the tenancy deposit scheme to see if you agree with the amount of deposit that is to be returned to you. If you do agree then you will receive the agreed amount within five working days.
If you don't agree with any deductions to your deposit, then you will be able to apply to the dispute resolution process. As part of the process you will need to show that you have tried to come to agreement with your landlord before entering the dispute resolution process.
The dispute will be referred to an independent adjudicator. The adjudicator will come to a decision, within 20 working days, and if you are not happy with the amount of the deposit that is to be returned then you can ask for a review. However, after a review the decision made will be final and binding on both parties.
You and your landlord will agree on the amount of rent to be paid before your tenancy starts. Your tenancy agreement should state:
- how much your rent is
- what does the rent cover (does it include council tax or gas, electricity or phone bills?)
- when is the rent due (weekly, monthly, etc)
- on which date should the rent be paid
- how should be the rent paid (standing order, direct debit, cheque or cash)
Help with your rent
If you are on a low income or you are already receiving other benefits, you may be entitled to help to pay your rent from housing benefit (called local housing allowance).
If you are already claiming housing benefit, but it does not cover all of the rent, you may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment to help with the difference, or even to help towards paying off the arrears.
You should also arrange for a benefit check with a specialist adviser. Even if you're already claiming benefits, you may not be claiming everything you're entitled to. You can find an adviser using our Advice finder.
Increases in rent
If you are an assured tenant, when the fixed term expires your rent can be increased if:
- your tenancy agreement states a procedure for increasing the rent
- your landlord gives you notice to change the terms of your tenancy, including the rent charged, on an AT1(L) form (only after serving you with a notice to quit).
- your landlord gives you a written notice of the proposed increase on an AT2 form (they can only give you one AT2 notice per year)
Landlords of short assured tenancies do not have to follow the above procedure. however, your rent cannot be increased during the fixed term of the tenancy, and the landlord should give you good notice of their intention to increasing the rent.
If you think the rent increase is too high, both assured and short assured tenants have the right to go to the Housing and Property Chamber, First-tier Tribunal for Scotland for their rent to be set.