7 Things the crown could buy with unclaimed deposits

It’s always a huge relief when your tenancy deposit comes back, even if you’re sure you left everything spick and span when you moved out! After the deposit is released by the protection scheme it’s registered with, you can claim it. But what if you’re one of the thousands of tenants who don’t? What happens to all that money? 

The majority of tenancy deposits must be lodged in one of 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes. These schemes were introduced in 2012 to prevent deposit money being held back from tenants on false grounds. They secure your deposit until the end of the tenancy, when – providing the tenancy agreement has been fulfilled and there are no unresolved disputes – it’s then released for you to claim back.

But it seems not every tenant claims back their deposit after all, even if it’s available to them. As of the end of March 2017, SafeDeposits Scotland alone held 2,395 unclaimed deposits – with a staggering value of £596,144.86.

Imagine what that could buy! Here are just a few things £596k could cover:

  • Almost a lifetime’s rent (about 63 years) in a 2-bedroom flat in Edinburgh
  • The purchase of a 5-bedroom apartment in a Highland castle
  • …Or this tiny house in London
  • …Or, an entire island in Argyll!
  • Fitting 4 properties with indoor swimming pools
  • Construction of around 6 new council houses
  • A week’s food shopping for up to 10,495 households*

…We could add to this list, but you get the idea!

None of this money can be spent, though… At present, any unclaimed deposits would eventually be passed to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (The Crown) after 6 years. But this could change: as part of a review on tenancy deposit schemes later this year, there will be discussions with the Scottish Government to consider options for where unclaimed deposits are destined to end up. After the review, it is unlikely that it will be the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer who benefits.

Meanwhile, SafeDeposits work hard to return the cash – in fact, since this April they’ve managed to reunite £76,589 of it to the rightful claimants! But there are still plenty of elusive tenants out there, many of whom simply don’t respond.

So, why do so many deposits go unclaimed? Could it be that some tenants are unaware of their rights or don’t know the processes of deposit protection schemes? It may be that if some tenants know they’ve caused property damage, they write off the idea of getting their full deposit back – even if only part of it was needed to cover the repairs and they might still be entitled to the rest! So here are a couple of tips from us…

At the start of the tenancy, always check your deposit has been registered correctly (find out more in the video below).

At the end of the tenancy, keep in contact with your landlord or agent, and be vigilant to any communication from your deposit protection scheme. For a step-by-step guide to claiming your deposit back, watch this video from SafeDeposits.

Good to know: Not every tenancy requires the deposit to be registered; for example where the landlord is also resident (find out more at the bottom of our deposits information page).

We have all the advice you need on private tenancy types and deposits – make sure you get clued up on your rights and the processes, so you don’t end up short of cash!


*Based on the ONS 2016 UK average of £56.80 per week

Leave a Comment