A lettings agency in Scotland has become the first north of the border to be reprimanded for breaching legislation on tenancy deposit securement.
The ruling against Colvin Houston Ltd at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court could have wider implications for the entire lettings sector in Scotland. This decision was the first time an agency in the country has been prosecuted under the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
This legislation was introduced to make sure deposits were secured in independent tenancy deposit schemes and subsequently protected by third parties until repayment date.
Initially set up to prevent tenants from losing their deposits unfairly, the scheme had never previously been used to prosecute letting agents.
Primarily, housing legislation north of the border puts the responsibility for securing tenancy deposits firmly on landlords. However, the consumer protection legislation was used in this case to make an agent responsible for the responsibilities they carried out on behalf of their landlords.
Colvin Houston Ltd, of Largs, pleaded guilty to the charges, relating to two specific tenancy deposits. These amounted to £925, which was not placed in a statutory deposit scheme.
In addition, the company was fined £750, reduced to £500 for an early plea.
Jen Paice, chief executive of SafeDeposits Scotland, said, ‘the statutory duty to protect a deposit is on the landlord even when a letting agent is used so it’s essential to seek confirmation that this is happening and alert the authorities where it is not. We hear first-hand about the success and benefits of the scheme in providing assurance for tenants and landlords alike.’