Phoebe Russel-Smith, Stephanie Dion-Jones and Alexis Herskowit v Ijeoma Uchegbu, 30 September 2016 – level of sanction payable by landlord for failing to comply with tenancy deposit regulations

Sheriff court case in which 3 students from the University of Edinburgh, who held a short assured tenancy over a flat on Drummond Street in Edinburgh, sought sanction from their landlady after the landlady failed to pay a tenancy deposit (of £1,550) into an approved tenancy deposit scheme in terms of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.

The landlady paid the deposit into an approved scheme 240 days late and only after the students raised the action against her. She also failed to provide the tenants with information (relating to the deposit and landlord registration) in terms of regulations 3 and 42 of the regulations. The tenants sought the maximum sum available of £4,650 (3 times value of the deposit.)

There was a fourth tenant who was not party to the action. Because of this, the landlady argued that the sanction granted should be reduced by 25% on the basis that the fourth tenant could make an additional application for sanction. However, the sheriff rejected that argument as he found that it was not open to the court to sanction the landlady twice. Serial sanctions against landlords by a number of co-tenants are not competent. Instead the fourth tenant had a right of relief which he could exercise against his co-tenants to receive a share of the sanction.

The sheriff took  the following into account when assessing the level of the sanction:

  • for 270 days of a 334 day lease the deposit was unprotected (as a result, the sheriff multiplied the deposit by 270/334 to give a figure of £1,253);
  • the landlady had admitted her breach of the regulations (and not wasted the courts time disputing it);
  • the deposit was ultimately returned to the tenants in full and without dispute (meaning that, although the tenants had been deprived of their rights to protection, they had not actually been prejudiced); and
  • the landlady had been specifically informed of her obligations under the regulations (twice) by the City of Edinburgh Council and so had to be taken to have known of her obligations (although the sheriff found that she had been slow in complying rather than wilfully defiant).

Taking into account the latter 3 points, the sheriff granted a further sum of £600 and awarded a total sanction of £1853.

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.

 All of our property and conveyancing case summaries are contained in the LKS Property and Conveyancing Casebook here.


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