Welcome to my first blog post. I had planned to write this at the beginning of the year and already it's March – time flies when you're having fun!
It's been nearly two years since I started at SafeDeposits Scotland, and for the majority of that time I have been very office focused, but for very good reasons.
Finding and moving into our new Glasgow offices, bringing our call centre back in-house, growing the team, paying off our start up loan, treasury management of the increasing number of deposits, stabilising our cost base... oh and I had a baby sometime in between all of that! Crikey, he is already a year old!
But the time has come when I can concentrate on meeting more of our users to understand how we can continue to support them with great customer service with our dedicated Scotland based team.
For those that have met me, you will be aware of my personal mission – to find the landlords dotted around Scotland who just don't know that tenancy deposit schemes even exist.
Most out there are not deliberately not lodging deposits: they are just not aware of their legal obligations as landlords, and the tenants they are renting to don't know either. With a national average of 60% compliance of the tenancy deposit scheme, there are lots of unprotected deposits out there to find and safely deposit into a scheme.
SafeDeposits Scotland's ultimate mission is to gift aid all of our surpluses to our charitable trust, the SafeDeposits Scotland Trust, which has been set up to promote education, training and best practice in Scotland's private rented sector. Our start-up loan should be repaid by the end of the year, so expect an announcement on this soon.
Until that time we need to find those tenants and landlords who don't know what they need to know. Many are accidental landlords with one property that they can't sell or inherited from a relative. They are good landlords, providing a good standard of property, but have not read anywhere about their legal obligations – and we want to help.
I'm delighted that we have just began work with a communications and PR agency to deliver an engagement programme to find those tenants and landlords who don't know about us. In the months ahead you will start to hear more generally about tenancy deposits schemes in the press and the positive impact it has made to the tenant and landlord or agent relationship.
SafeDeposits Scotland is in a privileged position compared to our competitors – being not for profit means we aren't being forced by shareholders to maximise profits, but are governed by a board who believe in the good that SafeDeposits Scotland can make to the Scottish private rented sector.
Part of the mission is also to educate and engage with MSPs throughout Scotland so that at all levels there is a good understanding on the impact tenancy deposit schemes make to the standard of the private rented sector, and continue to improve compliance.
I'm spending a good part of my working week at the Scottish Parliament, so much so even the security team have started to recognise me! So far so good and our MSPs seem very open to hearing more about the private rented sector in their constituency, which is good news for all.
I'll endeavor to keep you up to date with our progress via this blog, our website and Twitter feed, and in the meantime if you have any queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Paice, Chief Executive of SafeDeposits Scotland