In Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, Colvin Houston Ltd, a letting agents based in Largs, were fined £500.00 for failure to adhere to the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
This is a landmark case, as prior to this ruling the regulations had never been used against letting agents.
The case was investigated by North Ayrshire Council's Trading Standards board and was subsequently passed on to the Procurator Fiscal to bring criminal proceedings against the letting agent. Court proceedings were brought using the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to argue that the letting agents were responsible for deposits they took on behalf of their landlord.
It was argued that the landlords were consumer landlords rather than professional landlords. There was also a debate around the issue that no deposit had been secured. The letting agents had committed an offence for failing to meet the standard of skill and care that would reasonably be expected of a trader in its field of activity. This meant that their practice was unfair.
The letting agent pled guilty to the charges relating to two deposits, amounting to £950. Colvin Houston Ltd was fined £750.00; however this was reduced to £500 on the basis of an early plea.
The establishment of criminal liability for letting agents who fail to lodge tenants' deposits serves as a reminder of the importance of making sure deposits are lodged with a government approved scheme.
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