A COUPLE who believed they were saving for a deposit in a Rent-To-Buy scheme stand to lose thousands of pounds as the landlord is refusing to pay back the cash the couple thought they were saving.

Michael Rodger and his partner Lee-Ann Masterson joined the scheme in 2016 to rent a new-build flat in Newton Mearns.

The deal, to help people save for a deposit while renting, was that they paid two thirds of the market value to rent the new-build property and 50% of their rent payments went towards a deposit to buy it.

The Rent-To-Buy scheme was marketed at the time as allowing people to save for the “dream of buying a home” by giving them “the chance to build a deposit” while renting.

The couple, who both work in marketing, are now angry they have paid hundreds of pounds a month for years for what they thought was being saved towards the goal of owning the flat.

They had up to five years in which to purchase the property from the developer.

Now that they want to buy it, under the scheme they believed they would be entitled to receive around £15,000 back from the rent they have paid over the years.

The flat has been valued at £165,000 by an independent valuer at Purple Bricks estate agents.

However, when the couple applied to buy the flat, they received a letter back from the landlord.

It said: “Under the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, the cashback sum figure here is £nil [£0].”

The couple were told: “The Tenancy Agreement provides that the cashback sum is the lower of: 10% less of the freehold purchase price; 50% of the aggregate rents paid to date; the difference between the original market value and current market value (which if negative and treated as £nil).

“It is this latter point which has limited the cashback sum to £nil.”

Lee-Ann and Michael do not agree that would have been the value five years ago and the couple say they have been given no documentation to show the original valuation.

Online house price site Zoopla estimates that the average price of a flat in the Newton Mearns area has increased by 15% since 2015.

Lee- Ann said: “By stating it has not increased in value at all, it therefore must have been worth £165,000 back in 2016 which has allowed them to avoid having to pay any cashback.”

She added: “Effectively we have been told that we will not be receiving our deposit because they state this property has not increased in value at all in the last five years which was part of the minimum criteria in the small print of the contract we signed.

“So basically, the last five years where we thought we were saving money towards a deposit and therefore thought we would have around £15,000 cashback, was a waste of time.

“This ‘failsafe’ was not made clear at all when we signed the contract.”

At the time the flats were being developed, the firm behind the plan Quality Social Housing (QSH) said: “The Greenlaw scheme will enable households that dream of buying a home in the desirable Newton Mearns area, the chance to build a deposit and credit history and take their first step onto the property ladder.”

A spokesperson for Pace Trustees Limited, said: “Pace is committed to the Right to Buy scheme with regard to the properties in question, and to continuing to provide a long-term supply of good quality social housing to rent, despite the current challenged availability.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the arrangements across the properties in question, in tandem with all relevant parties, we are confident that the terms agreed by all parties remain appropriate and are being correctly adhered to, allowing tenants to exercise their option to buy, as and when the stated criteria are met.”

The Glasgow Times also asked Pace Trustees Limited if it had provided a valuation for the property in 2016 but the firm failed to answer before we went to print.