Anne McTaggart MSP has argued that the Scottish Government must do more to help tenants get their deposits back from private landlords, following the introduction of the tenancy deposit schemes.
Ms McTaggart was contributing to Patrick Harvie MSP’s debate on the subject of protecting tenants’ deposits in the chamber on Tuesday 4th June 2013.
Private landlords across the country have benefited from the difficulties faced by first time buyers, the unintended consequences of the bedroom tax and the devastating reality of high unemployment. This combination of factors has meant that the size of the private rented sector has doubled in the past ten years and now accounts for 12% of all housing stock.
Ms McTaggart welcomed the introduction of the tenancy deposit schemes and the legal requirement to register deposits in one of three approved schemes, but stated her concern that since the introduction of the requirement only half of all deposits have actually been registered.
Citizens Advice Scotland have highlighted that 55% of tenants are completely unaware that their landlords are legally required to register deposits, despite the fact that it is tenants themselves who are required to take action if landlords have not registered their deposit in one of the compulsory schemes.
Further, Citizens Advice has confirmed that nearly 30% of all housing enquiries are concerned with the private rented sector and specifically, with the unfair retention of deposits by landlords. The Scottish Government must recognise the scale of the challenge they face in achieving compliance with the deposit schemes, and provide the additional resources that will be necessary to achieve the principal aim of ensuring tenants deposits are not withheld by unscrupulous landlords.
Anne McTaggart MSP said:
“In response to my recent question (S4W-15152) the Scottish Government failed to commit to any changes in the way they enforce the deposit schemes, or to the support that they award to charities like Citizens Advice that are on the frontline in the battle to protect vulnerable tenants from exploitation.
“The ESPC, Citizens Advice, Shelter Scotland and NUS Scotland have all recognised that the Scottish Government must do much more to make both tenants and landlords aware of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes. These organisations understand that the system is currently unworkable, and that too many landlords are still avoiding their responsibilities to those who rent their properties.
“I urge the Scottish Government to look again at the difficulties in the implementation of the three tenancy deposit schemes and to work with organisations like citizens advice Scotland to ensure that the private rented sector is free from the questionable practices of exploitative landlords.”
– You can read Anne’s question to the Scottish Government here