If you take a deposit for a tenancy on or after 1 April 2013 you will be legally obliged to protect this deposit in an authorised scheme.
You can choose to protect the deposit in either a custodial or insurance based scheme and 3 separate companies have been appointed to provide this service in Northern Ireland.
What a landlord must do with a tenant's deposit
You must protect a deposit in an approved scheme within 14 days of receiving it. You must also give the tenant information about the deposit and the scheme that is protecting it, within 28 days of receiving the deposit.
This information must include:
- the amount of deposit protected and the address it relates to
- your full name and contact details
- details of any agent acting on your behalf
- the tenant’s contact details
- details of the scheme protecting the deposit
- details of how the deposit will be paid back and circumstances when you may keep some or all of the deposit
- what happens when the tenant is not contactable at the end of the tenancy.
If you fail to keep to the tenancy deposit regulations
A tenant can contact the Environmental Health office in the local council if you don't:
- protect their deposit within 14 days of receiving it
- give them written information about their deposit within 28 days of receiving it
If the council finds you broke the law, they can fine you three times the amount of the deposit. If the council imposes a fine, this applies to you not the tenant.
The council can also take you to court if you don't protect the deposit. The court might fine you up to £20,000.