Key findings from the Schemes perspective include:
• There is a broad consensus that the regulations continue to provide a robust regulatory framework for the protection of tenants’ deposits and the conditions for the operation of the Schemes, subject to routine update.
• There was no objection in principle to the use of unclaimed deposits being re-invested into the PRS. Schemes confirm that use of the surplus funds is unlikely to affect business viability.
• There has been an issue around the impact of low interest. In particular, five-year rates offered now are lower than those achieved in 2013/14. This may have an effect on account surpluses in the future if the rates do not increase and could have a knock on impact for Scheme’s ability to innovate.
Key findings from the Tenants include:
• The majority of tenants knew enough about the purpose and the way the schemes work.
• The vast majority of tenants reported that their deposit was protected by one of the schemes. However, 20% of the tenants reported that they had a tenancy in the last 5 years where the deposit had been unprotected.
• Most tenants felt confident that their deposit was safe.
• Tenants were asked about a tenancy that ended in the last three years and their experiences reclaiming their deposits. The majority had received their deposit back on time and/or in full.
• Delays caused by the landlord and by negotiations were the most common reasons for not receiving a deposit back on time.
Key findings from the landlords’ perspective include:
• The majority of landlords knew enough about the purpose and the way the schemes work.
• The vast majority of landlords were positive about the tenancy scheme regulations and especially felt that they were good for their tenants and ensured that the deposits are protected, while more than half agreed that the regulations were also good for landlords and that they ensured deposits were returned quickly and fairly.
• Just over half of landlords would not object to the money from unclaimed deposits being invested in improving the private rented sector. Of those that did not agree with this suggestion, the majority suggested that landlords should be given the money with smaller proportions suggesting the money should be given to charity, to homelessness or to the social/affordable housing sector.
• The majority of landlords claimed to be satisfied with the Scheme they use, mainly because protecting their tenants’ deposit had been easy.
• Landlords were more likely than tenants to have used the dispute service of the Scheme, but still the majority had not, mainly because they did not want to spend time/effort or because they had already agreed with the tenant.
• Finally, landlords’ were asked how much they knew about recent private renting sector changes. Awareness was generally low; 4 out of 10 knew a lot about the new private residential tenancy, but far fewer knew a lot about letting agent registration, letting agent code of practices or the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland.