SafeDeposits Scotland's operations manager Victoria Nixon answers some of the thornier questions posed to the team by landlords and letting agents.

Q: What should I do if one half of a joint tenancy moves out but refuses to respond to the tenant changeover request?

A: The tenant changeover function has been intentionally designed to help in case of this situation: if the tenant fails to respond to the request, it will 'time out' after 15 working days. This means you can enter a repayment request to return the remaining tenant's portion of the deposit to you, to be re-lodged in a new deposit account, and pay the outgoing tenant. We will hold the tenant's money until they contact us to claim it back. If a new tenant is moving in to replace the outgoing tenant, they should sign to agree to the contents of the original inventory document.

Q: If it's a tenant-find-only property with no inventory or check-out report, what's the best way to approach the dispute?

A: An adjudicator needs to be able to see the starting condition of the property and its contents and compare it to the end of the tenancy, which is normally done through a check-in and check-out report, supported by photographs. If this evidence is not available, unless a tenant makes an admission of liability in their evidence, it's unlikely that your claim will succeed. In this situation we recommend that landlords negotiate with their tenants outside of the adjudication process to try and reach a compromise.

Q: Can I terminate the tenancy within a six month assured tenancy due to unpaid rent?

A: The notice has to be served at the end of the current period. Notice could be issued either by serving a section 33 and notice to quit, or notice to quit under the specific grounds of rent arrears. The grounds relating to rent arrears are ground eight (three months' rent arrears), ground 11 (persistent delay in paying rent) and ground 12 (some rent unpaid).

Q: Can I increase the tenant's deposit when I increase the rent?

A: Yes. You can take up to two months' rent as a deposit. After increasing the rent, you should log in to your SafeDeposits user account, open the relevant deposit summary page, then use the 'Increase Deposit' function at the bottom of the page. This will allow you to 'top up' the deposit account with the increased amount. Please remember to use the deposit account number (DAN) as a reference when making the payment. We will send an updated deposit protection certificate to the tenant, and, as it's a material change to the tenancy, you should also issue an updated prescribed information to each tenant.

Q: One of the tenants left without notice and has marked the carpet. The email I have doesn't seem to work anymore and the tenant seems to have disappeared. Can I claim some of the deposit for a new carpet?

A: The deposit repayment process should not be completed until the tenancy has legally come to an end. When you're considering remedies for damage to a carpet, replacement should be the last consideration - for example, cleaning or repair should be considered first. However, if the damage is so extensive that the carpet is no longer fit for purpose, a replacement carpet could be claimed for. Please remember to allow for fair wear and tear when deciding on the amount to claim for.


This update is an extract from the latest issue of our magazine, Deposits in Scotland, the new magazine for everyone in the Scottish private rented sector. You can view or download Deposits in Scotland for free on our website.