BELFAST, Northern Ireland, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
New figures released by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland show tenants are paying higher deposits than previously estimated, at an average £558 per tenancy.
Previous research by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive estimated a far lower value of £294 per tenancy. These new figures come from the scheme's first month in operation and are the first hard data on deposit values to be made available.
It became a legal requirement for landlords to protect new deposits on private tenancies with an approved scheme from April 1st 2013. Landlords who fail to protect tenancy deposits within 14 days now face a fine of up to three times the value of the deposit from the district council, or up to £20,000 in court.
Chief Executive Steve Harriott said, "Initial statistics from our first month in operation already give an added insight into the private rented sector. The average deposit of £558 is far higher than previous estimates, but similar to the average monthly rent in the Metropolitan Belfast area of £561.
"This is consistent with a typical deposit of four weeks' rent, so we can be confident the figures are representative of the current market."
Landlords can either transfer the deposit to be held by TDS Northern Ireland free of charge, or hold the money and have it protected by the scheme's insurance for a small fee.
Mr Harriott continued, "Interestingly the value of deposits protected by the insurance scheme has been far higher than those transferred into the custodial scheme, at £634 and £490 respectively. This reflects the experience in England and Wales where the insurance scheme attracts higher value deposits."
The average deposit in Northern Ireland is lower than in Scotland where it is £671 and in England and Wales at £992, a reflection of lower rents.
TDS Northern Ireland will continue to monitor rent and deposit values as the scheme continues.
 Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Performance of the private rental market July - December 2012 http://www.nihe.gov.uk/performance_of_the_private_rental_market_belfast_metropolitan_area_july-december_2012_published_april_2013.pdf
SOURCE TDS Northern Ireland