Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 require all Landlords who take a deposit for a private tenancy to register the deposit with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.  The new statutory requirements apply to deposits received by Landlords on or after 1st April 2013 and the legislation relates to deposits required as security against a tenant failing in their contractual obligations e.g. non-payment of rent, damage to property.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has appointed the following independent private companies as scheme administrators to operate the scheme in Northern Ireland:

  • Letting Protection Service (LPS)
  • My Deposits Northern Ireland
  • The Dispute Service (TDS) Northern Ireland

Under Part 3 of the Regulations – there are two types of schemes which will operate in Northern Ireland:

  • Custodial Schemes – a scheme whereby the Landlord transfers all of the deposit to the scheme administrator for safekeeping until the end of the tenancy.
  • Insurance Schemes – a scheme whereby the Landlord retains the deposit but pays an insurance fee to the scheme administrator so as to protect the deposit in case of a dispute.

How do the Schemes work?
The Landlord or agent must:

  • within 14 days of receipt of the deposit protect the deposit in an approved Scheme and provide information to the scheme administrator of the amount of the deposit paid and the full address of the tenancy; the Landlord’s full name and date of birth; the Landlord’s contact details including your registered address, telephone number(s), mobile number and email address; the Landlord’s correspondence address, which must be in Northern Ireland, if it differs from the address above; confirmation of the tenant’s contact details and details of anyone acting on the tenant’s behalf.
  • within 28 days of receiving the deposit must give their tenant details of the amount of the deposit and the address of the tenancy; the Landlord’s full name and contact details including registered address, telephone number, mobile number and email address; the contact details of any agent acting on the Landlord’s behalf; a correspondence address for the Landlord, which must be in Northern Ireland, if it differs from the registered address supplied; confirmation of the tenant’s contact details and details of anyone acting on the tenant’s behalf; details of the Scheme in which the deposit has been placed, including details of the dispute resolution mechanism; details of how the deposit will be refunded at the end of the tenancy and the circumstances under which the Landlord may retain some or all of it; information on what will happen if the tenant is not contactable at the end of the tenancy.

It is an offence to fail to protect the deposit or provide any of this information within the required timeframes.

What happens is there is a dispute?
Free dispute resolution is available by each of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Administrators.  It is not compulsory for the tenant to use a dispute resolution service, however, the Landlord must use it if the tenant requests.  Both parties still retain the right to use the Courts to resolve any dispute about a tenancy deposit.

Complaints
The Council is responsible for investigating complaints from tenants.

Where the Council believes that an offence has been committed, the Council may prosecute a Landlord and on conviction a fine of up to £20,000 could be imposed.  The Council also has powers to serve the person committing the offence with a Fixed Penalty Notice offering them the opportunity to discharge any liability to conviction by paying the Fixed Penalty fee to the Council.

For further information please see the Department for Social Development website:   http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/hsdiv-housing/private_rented_sector/tenancy-deposit.htm