Tenant News

Over £180,000 of tenancy deposits left unclaimed by tenants in Scotland

Em Morley - January 25, 2021

SafeDeposits Scotland has revealed that tenants in the west of Scotland could be due a share of £188,851, after failing to claim back deposits at the end of their tenancies.

The Glasgow-based organisation is a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme that holds deposits on behalf of landlords and agents. When a tenancy ends and all parties agree to repayment, the scheme then releases the funds back to the tenant. 

SafeDeposits reports that currently, the G postcode alone has 572 unclaimed deposits with a combined value of £153,458, with one individual claim worth £1,950. In total across Scotland, there are around 2,513 unclaimed deposits, amounting to £690,383. 

One Greenock resident, Gary Crawford, was recently contacted by SafeDeposits Scotland about his unclaimed deposit after he left his property in October.  

Gary said: “There was a bit of a mix-up when I left the property I was renting. I didn’t realise it was a rolling contract and due to the notice I gave, I was led to believe I wouldn’t get my deposit back. It was one of those things where I just assumed that was that, and I put it out of my mind. 

“A week or so before Christmas I got a call out of the blue from SafeDeposits Scotland where I was told I’d be getting my full deposit back. It was such a pleasant surprise, especially just in time to spend over the festive period. It was really simple once they had got in touch. I shared my bank details and the money was in my account within the week. Going forward, I will always make sure to check what I am due and I’d urge others to seek advice if they’re not 100% sure.”

In 2020, SafeDeposits Scotland tracked down 1,246 tenants across the country that had forgotten to claim their deposits back. They managed to return £470,320 from the scheme to these tenants. 

The organisation also looked into the quantity of deposits it holds for longer-standing tenancies. The average tenure length for tenancies with deposits protected by SafeDeposits Scotland is just over 2.5 years. However, the scheme found over 4,500 active deposit accounts for tenancies of 10 years or more. 

There are 1,275 long-standing tenancies in the G, PA, KA, and ML postcode areas, with tenancies in both Glasgow and Greenock starting in 1988. While many of these tenancies will still be active, there may be some cases where a tenancy has ended and none of the parties have ever instigated the repayment process.

Mike Smith, operations manager at SafeDeposits Scotland, comments: “Our priority is to make sure tenants’ deposits are safe for the duration of their tenancy, and that both landlords and tenants have access to our dispute resolution service should there be any disagreement over the deposit once the tenancy ends. 

“Glasgow is home to 56,000 private rented properties and it’s predicted that this number will grow to 70,000 by 2028, influenced by factors such as recent high-profile financial services investments seen across the city that will lead to an increase in people looking to rent ahead of starting new employment. But it’s part of our job to make sure that people, including those moving into new houses, remember to claim their deposits back from previous tenancies.

“We’ve found that hundreds of people have left their Glasgow homes without claiming back their deposit, some of which are worth hundreds of pounds. These are instances where a landlord has instructed for the deposit to be repaid to the tenant, but the tenant hasn’t completed the process to receive their funds. We’ve also discovered that there are hundreds of older tenancies, some of which may be no longer active and with deposits to be repaid.

“Moving home can be a busy time but there’s no reason why a tenant shouldn’t claim their deposit back when they leave.”