Millions of pounds of wrongly withheld deposits are owed to thousands of tenants in Scotland, according to the regional assembly.
Research estimates up to £3.6 million in deposits is owed to between 8,000 and 11,000 tenants.
Now, the assembly is looking at setting up a compulsory tenancy deposit scheme.
Housing minister Alex Neil said: ‘Landlords can legitimately withhold a tenant’s deposit for a number of reasons.
‘However, this government shares the concerns about unfairly withheld tenancy deposits and I want to move quickly to resolve this issue.’
Landlords in England have had to observe tenancy deposit protection since April 2008.
Tenant and landlord disputes in Scotland are currently dealt with in the courts.
‘Anecdotal evidence suggests that tenants are reluctant to seek redress through the small claims court due to the complexity, cost and length of time involved,” says the consultation report.<
‘Furthermore, if the landlord does not accede to the court order, the responsibility to enforce it lies with the former tenant, and involves the trouble and expense of engaging a sheriff officer. If the landlord has insufficient assets, it may be that no money can be recovered.’
The consultation runs until October.