His father contacted EPTAG, explaining the situation:
“My son was studying in Edinburgh. He rented a flat through Anna Harper Lettings. I paid his bond which came to £700. When his tenancy ended in 2007 they refused to return his bond, giving as a reason that there may be outstanding bills; he couldn’t produce any final bills. It’s now 2012 and we still haven’t had the bond back – nobody is chasing him for any outstanding bills after all this time. Can the lettings agency still refuse to refund this money?”
EPTAG advised that If there is no evidence of any bills that need to be paid, then this is not a legitimate reason to withhold any deposit. EPTAG recommended that he write to the letting agency, threatening a small claims action if the deposit is not returned.
Following this advice, they wrote a strongly worded letter requesting the deposit back, with the threat of court action. The majority of the deposit arrived in his bank account, less a cleaning charge.
This example shows that people need to stand up for their rights, as this Edinburgh student and his father have done, otherwise letting agencies like this one will continue to act illegally to keep people’s deposits.
This is a common problem for tenants in the private sector, and Scottish Government research indicates that the amount of wrongly withheld deposits may be as much as £3.6 million, and affecting as many as 11,000 Scottish tenants.
Fortunately, the tenancy deposit scheme is coming into force this summer, and landlords and letting agents will have to give the deposit to a third party, which we hope will ensure far fewer tenants are exploited in this way. We are sure though, that this scheme will be far from perfect, and tenants will still need to become organised and stand up for their rights.