Scottish landlords and tenants 'increasingly resolving deposit disputes themselves'

Scottish landlords and tenants are increasingly resolving disputes over deposits themselves and avoiding lengthy formal processes, according to new figures.

New figures from SafeDeposits Scotland show that more landlords and tenants are opting to solve disputes independently, saving them weeks of waiting and potential stress caused by lengthy formal processes.

Between April and June, SafeDeposits Scotland saw the percentage of self-resolution cases completed increase by 11 per cent – accounting for 9 per cent of total dispute cases in April, 17 per cent in May, and 20 per cent in June. Over the same period, the number of dispute cases entering alternative dispute resolution (ADR) decreased by 10 per cent.

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Overall case numbers increased by 20 per cent, indicating that despite the rise in disputes during the same period, more are being resolved independently.

SafeDeposits Scotland is urging more tenants and landlords to consider self-resolution where possible (file image). Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

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The Glasgow-based scheme holds tenants’ deposits on behalf of landlords and letting agents in line with government regulations designed to ensure responsible leasing. As part of this, the scheme also provides a free ADR service where an independent adjudicator uses evidence submitted to reach a decision, but it can take up to 12 weeks to complete.

SafeDeposits Scotland said self-resolution is an increasingly popular alternative where mutual agreements can be made between the two parties, “often through a simple conversation".

Mike Smith, operations manager at SafeDeposits Scotland, said: “About 40 per cent of all disputes that were brought to us last year were solved independently once the parties understood their options.

“One of the major benefits of self-resolution is that the disputed funds can be accessed sooner. Once an agreement is reached, funds will be released and will reach parties within five working days. This means money can be available much quicker for those needing a new deposit or landlords looking to pay for property repairs before new tenants arrive.”

SafeDeposits Scotland was set up after the introduction of legislation over tenants’ deposits, with backing from industry specialists Rics, the Scottish Association of Landlords, Association of Residential Letting Agents and The Dispute Service, which runs the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in England and Wales.

Cleaning costs, unpaid rent and property damage are among the causes for deposit deduction claims that can result in disputes between landlords and tenants.

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