Challenging times

Each year the first day of April sees news outlets and companies gently tease their readers and social media followers with outlandish stories designed to generate first gasps of surprise and then chuckles as the realisation that it is April Fool’s Day sets in. There wasn’t a huge amount to laugh at on 1st April 2022 however, with rising energy costs dominating the headlines and deepening the shadow that the cost of living crisis has gradually been casting over countless households.

The gas and electricity firms have been taking centre stage in this parade of bad news, but news reports have also rounded up price increases on things like mobile phone bills and streaming services, as well as rising council tax and National Insurance contributions.

Whilst having different roles within the private rented sector, landlords and tenants do have something in common with each other – they are all householders, and none will be shielded from the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Lightening the load

One thing that may go some way to slightly easing financial pressure on new tenants at this difficult time is the relatively little-known fact that tenancy deposits can be paid in instalments. The Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 do permit for deposits to be paid in this way, although this is ultimately something that is at the discretion of the landlord and any such agreements should be detailed on the tenancy agreement. The landlord must treat any instalment they receive in the same way that they would a full deposit – each instalment must be lodged with a government approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of the payment having been received.

With the average deposit protected by SafeDeposits Scotland in the region of £795, breaking the tenancy deposit down to smaller instalments could be more manageable for tenants in certain circumstances. This early compromise may also assist tenants in being able to pay their rent fully and on time, avoiding arrears issues further down the line.

Supporting each other

A mutually respectful relationship between landlord and tenant, with good communication between both parties, is important at any time and not just in the face of collective challenges such as the pandemic and cost of living crisis. Where a landlord sets out clearly on a tenancy agreement their expectations and a tenant meets these, returning the property in the condition they found it, unnecessary stress and expense can be avoided.  In other words, if the property is returned as found, then the landlord will not have to spend on unforeseen costs such as repairs or redecoration, avoiding the need to deduct such expenses from the tenancy deposit and paving the way for the tenant to receive the deposit back in full.