Monday, 14 January 2013

Tenancy Deposit Protection for Northern Ireland

The January / February 2013 UK Landlord magazine has reported news about the Tenancy Deposit scheme that is currently operated in England and Wales and Scotland going to Northern Ireland as well.

Legislation has now been approved for tenancy deposit protection schemes to be introduced in Northern Ireland early in 2013.

According to "UK Landlord" - Northern Ireland's Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland has invited expressions of interest from organisations to operate a new tenancy deposit protection scheme in Northern Ireland.

A new law recently approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly require an independent third party scheme to protect tenant's deposits as in England and Wales and Scotland. Minister Nelson McCausland said he expects the scheme to provide "benefits for both landlords and tenants, encourage a more professional approach to tenancy deposit practise, minimise disputes and go some way to improving the sector's reputation as a desirable option".

The minister said he wanted to appoint scheme adminstrators as soon as possible to allow the scheme to operate from early 2013 - Source UK Landlord.

The NI Direct  Department of Social Development says on it's website " Why is The Tenancy Deposit Schemes Legislation being introduced?"

  • Tenancy deposits will be protected by an independent third party.
    This will prevent deposit from being unfairly withheld by landlords or letting agents at the end of the tenancy.  
  • Quick repayment of deposits.
    Where a landlord and tenant agree about the return of the deposit the deposit must be returned within 5 working days.
  • Free access to an independent dispute resolution service.
    Every approved scheme will provide a free service to resolve disagreements over the return of deposits as an alternative to taking legal action through the courts.
  • Provision of information.
    Landlords must give the tenant key information about the tenancy, the deposit and the scheme that safeguards the deposit. Schemes will also provide information about the protection of deposits and their services to tenants and landlords.
  • Sanctions for non compliance.
    A tenant can report a landlord to the local council if they fail to submit deposits to an approved scheme and/or provide information to the tenant within the specified time limits. Councils will have the power to issue fixed penalties in these cases.
  • Improved professionalism of the private rented sector.
    The introduction of tenancy deposit schemes will raise standards in relation to management of deposits.
When will the tenancy deposit schemes be available?
Once a scheme administrator(s) has been approved by the Department and the necessary publicity of their approved scheme has taken place, it is anticipated that the tenancy deposits schemes will become operational and that the first deposits should start to be protected in early 2013. Source NI Direct
It will be interesting to see if the same organisations who run the Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes in England, Wales and Scotland run the new one in Northern Ireland. After all they have the mechanism in place. 
Deposit Protection Service - MyDeposits - Tenancy Deposit Scheme for England And Wales
The Letting Protection Service Scotland - Safedeposits Scotland - My|deposits Scotland for Scotland

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