08 August 2012

Controversial £500 'Check out' Charges

Exposed: charging of illegal premiums by letting agents.

The Edinburgh Evening News publishes a story suggesting at least one Edinburgh letting agent may be trying to get around new Scottish Government legislation aimed at protecting tenants.

What rights do tenants in the private rented sector have? EHAP reports...

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 came into force on 7 March 2011.

The Scottish Government website states 'A tenancy deposit scheme is a scheme provided by an independent third party to protect deposits until they are due to be repaid. Three schemes are now operating:

  • The Letting Protection Service Scotland
  • Safedeposits Scotland
  • My Deposits Scotland

The legal duties on landlords who receive a tenancy deposit are:

  • to pay deposits to an approved tenancy deposit scheme
  • to provide the tenant with key information about the tenancy and deposit'

Crucially, the dates for when landlords must transfer deposits to an approved scheme vary depending on when the deposit was received. See below for full details.

Existing legislation under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 already clearly states that any premium in addition to the rent and deposit cannot be charged in the granting, renewing or continuing of a tenancy.

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes Regulations are designed to further safeguard tenants' rights by safeguarding deposits and giving all tenants access to independent dispute resolution services if they disagree with the amount their landlord or letting agent applies to deduct at the end of their tenancy.

The Edinburgh Evening News article reported that at least one Edinburgh letting agent is currently asking tenants to sign up to their own in-house arrangement with a £500 flat fee being charged at the end of the tenancy.

EHAP has not been able to confirm the accuracy of this report but would like to encourage all tenants who are concerned they may have been charged an illegal premium by their landlord or letting agent to seek advice.

The Shelter 'Reclaim Your Fees' campaign has already been successful at helping many individuals to take action to get back illegal additional charges and premiums deducted from deposits by private landlords and letting agents.

In June EHAP lead partner CHAI hosted a blog post on this subject from Shelter  http://chaiedinburgh.wordpress.com/. Edinburgh residents who feel they may be affected and require further assistance can contact EHAP on 0131 225 6789 to make an appointment with an advisor.

Key dates for landlords

The dates by which landlords must pay deposits to an approved scheme and provide information to the tenant vary, depending on when the deposit was received:

1. Deposit received prior to 7 March 2011:

Where the tenancy is renewed by express agreement or tacit relocation on or after 2 October 2012 and before 2 April 2013 (Regulation 47(a))

Within 30 working days of renewal

In any other case (Regulation 47(b))

By 15 May 2013

2. Deposit received on or after 7 March 2011 and before 2 July 2012 (Regulation 48)

By 13 November 2012

3. Deposit received on or after 2 July 2012 and before 2 October 2012 (Regulation 4)

By 13 November 2012

4. Deposit received on or after 2 October 2012 (Regulation 3)

Within 30 working days of the beginning of the tenancy

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