BELFAST, Northern Ireland, September 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Three quarters of tenants who had deposit money withheld by previous landlords think it was kept unfairly, according to a new survey. The survey shows the new law requiring landlords to protect deposit money is a "crucial development" for Northern Ireland's private rented sector.
Tenants are most commonly charged by landlords for cleaning and damage when they move out, however only a small minority (4%), of tenants who had deductions made thought that all were fair. Less than half of those questioned who rent from private landlords had their last deposit back in full.
Since April 2013 landlords have been required to protect new deposits with an approved scheme, giving tenants a chance to dispute deductions through a free adjudication service without going to court. Landlords who don't protect deposits face a potential fine of up to £20,000.
The survey also revealed that nearly half of tenants were given no record of the condition of their current property, such as an inventory, when they moved in, meaning landlords will have difficulty justifying deductions if disputed through the scheme.
Despite many tenants being dissatisfied with deposit charges, landlords shouldn't expect to be flooded with disputes. Ben Beadle of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland explained:
"Many tenants were unhappy with deductions when deposit protection launched in other parts of the UK.
"However only a small number of deductions are disputed there, as landlords are now more careful over making reasonable deductions, more open to negotiation, and more careful over record keeping. We hope to see this happen in Northern Ireland.
"Protecting deposits is a crucial development for the private rental sector, and will make for a better relationship between landlords and tenants."
A worrying finding from the survey was the lack of compliance amongst landlords in giving information to tenants about how and where their deposit is protected.
Mr Beadle continued:
"A landlord can be fined up to £20,000 if they do not comply with deposit protection rules, and this includes giving prescribed information to tenants so they know exactly what is happening to their deposit.
"Landlords who aren't sure about the new deposit protection laws should contact the tenancy deposit scheme straight away to avoid potentially serious penalties."
The full survey report can be viewed on the TDS Northern Ireland website:
Notes for editors
- The survey was emailed to 1378 tenants with a 14.1% response rate (200).
- Tenancy deposit protection for private tenancies became mandatory on 1st April 2013. TDS Northern Ireland was appointed by the Northern Ireland Executive to operate a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
SOURCE TDS Northern Ireland