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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
New measures for tenant deposits
Rent deposit
Rent deposits held by landlords in Scotland total 45m
New laws to prevent tenant and landlord disputes over rent deposits are to be introduced by the Scottish Executive.

An amendment to the Housing Bill aims to provide a framework for resolving rows and also help speed up the process of returning tenants' money.

It is estimated that about 45m is retained by landlords in tenancy deposits and about 1m of that is unreasonably withheld each year.

The executive said one option available would be to hold deposits centrally.

About 173,000 households rent their homes from a private landlord in Scotland.

Housing Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: "A rent deposit is someone's money and it should rightly be protected.

Another major problem is bad management and this is not covered properly in the bill
Gavin Corbett

"Of course, not all deposits are disputed, and some deposits are withheld for good reason but we know some are not.

"Where this is the case, we want to look at ways of making it easier for landlords and tenants to resolve their dispute without having to go through a lengthy and sometimes costly court process."

At the moment, the only way to resolve disputes over deposits, which can be up to two months' rent, is by taking legal action, including the use of the small claims court.

New amendment

Homeless charity Shelter welcomed the executive's commitment on rent deposits, but said a further amendment was needed to address bad management.

Head of campaigns Gavin Corbett said: "We are pleased the minister has agreed to look at the options to regulate deposits in Scotland and are confident this process will lead to a national rent deposit scheme being adopted.

"But another major problem is bad management and this is not covered properly in the bill."

Mr Corbett said MSPs should back an amendment to give tenants the right to appeal to a new tribunal when they were unhappy with how their landlord was managing the tenancy.

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