The solicitor defending the landlord in court argued that this action was nothing but “a storm in a teacup”. The Sheriff strongly disagreed, and decided that the landlord should pay the maximum amount (£3,450) as a penalty to the tenants, due to the landlord’s dismissive attitude, and as an example to other landlords currently ignoring or avoiding the law.
The Landlord, Andrew Meehan tried to rely upon ignorance of the law in his defense. However he is an experienced landlord, who is a former employee of a large letting agency, Rettie & Co. The address the Court was given for him was in fact the Rettie & Co head office on India Street.
In addition to a breach of the TDS law, he has also not registered his property with the compulsory Landlord Registration Scheme. This is also an offense with very high penalties, which we hope is also being looked into by Edinburgh City Council.
Under the new Tenancy Deposit Scheme, landlords must place their deposit into one of the three schemes approved by the Scottish Government, or open themselves up for legal action where they can be sued by their tenants.
However, the law is clearly not yet being taken seriously by landlords, even ones employed by major letting agents in Scotland. It has recently been estimated by the Scottish Government that a deposit has not yet been paid into a scheme for half of all tenancies in Scotland, with many tenants telling us that some letting agents are cooking up schemes to avoid the law, or just ignoring it completely as a matter of policy.
EPTAG is very pleased with this decision, and hopes that this recent ruling will convince landlords that following the law is not optional. We also hope that Edinburgh City Council will investigate the fact that Andrew Meehan has not registered his property with the landlord registration scheme.
EPTAG is currently campaigning to have Rettie & Co refund over a dozen tenants’ illegally charged ‘administration fees’.