Tenancy Deposit Scheme

The Housing Division of Department for Social Development has announced that a Regional Rent Deposit scheme will be launched in Northern Ireland in the spring as well as compulsory landlord registration. It will be based upon the existing structure in England and Wales detailed below.

The tenancy deposit scheme came into force on the 6th April 2007

When letting a property, a landlord will be given a deposit by the tenants against possible non-payment of rent or damage to the property. When this tenancy comes to an end the deposit is returned to the tenants, with any deductions necessary to be made from this amount.

The new tenant deposit scheme has been developed to ensure all deposits held are protected and disputes about their return are resolved impartially, inexpensively and promptly. Under the Scheme:

         deposits will be protected during the tenancy by a regulated agent.

         where there is NO dispute at the end of the tenancy, deposits will be returned promptly to the tenant.

         where there is a dispute about the return of the deposit it will be dealt with fairly by the Independent Complaints Examiner (ICE).

So if there is a dispute, the agent has 10 days to resolve it. If it is not resolved, any of the parties - landlord, agent or tenant - can approach the ICE. The agent will then transfer the deposit to The Dispute Service Limited.

An adjudicator will be appointed to assist him in considering any evidence provided, and will issue his decision within 10 working days of receiving all the necessary papers.

They will make their decisions based on standard and detailed tenancy documentation. So inventories, check-in and check out reports are vital to this new process and without them there will be no case to answer. If there is no report the tenant will normally receive his full deposit back and the landlord could be seriously out of pocket in terms of compensation costs. So independently supplied inventories are vitally important and will carry the greatest weight.

The Tenancy Deposit scheme is designed to ensure :

         all disputes between the tenant and landlord/agent are easier to resolve.

         tenants get all or part of their deposit back, when they are entitled to it.

         landlords and letting agents who do not protect tenancy deposits will have to pay their tenant back three times the deposit.