CAB reinforces the need for Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Citizens Advice Bureaux across Northern Ireland continue to see clients who are facing financial hardship due to the actions of unscrupulous landlords who are unreasonably withholding all or part of their tenancy deposit. When no damage has occurred keeping hold of this money is unfair and cheats tenants out of money that is rightfully theirs.
The refusal of a landlord to return a security deposit, which can often be a substantial amount of money, can mean that the tenant has trouble paying a deposit or rent in advance on another property. Housing Benefit does not take account of the need to pay a deposit up front, or pay rent in advance.
Tenants who find it difficult to recover their deposits from landlords once their tenancy comes to an end are forced to pursue court action in the small claims court to get their money back. However many tenants simply write off the loss of their money because this process is too slow and daunting for them.
Legislation was introduced in England and Wales in 2007 to introduce tenancy deposit schemes to protect residential tenants. These tenancy deposit schemes allow tenants to get all or part of their deposit back when they are entitled to it and encourage both tenants and landlords to make a clear agreement from the start of a tenancy on the condition of the property.
Consultation on a range of private rented sector issues, including the establishment of a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme in Northern Ireland, closed during the summer. Citizens Advice would like to see legislation introduced to establish a tenancy deposit scheme as soon as possible.
A client of Central Belfast CAB is leaving her rented property after one year and is concerned as her landlord will not repay her deposit of one and a half months rent (£800). The client only communicates with her landlord by e-mail and has never met him.
A client of Central Belfast CAB is leaving her rented property after one year and in accordance with her tenancy agreement expected the return of her deposit. Despite the efforts of her letting agent and promises from her landlord no payment has been made. The client was finally told over the telephone that no refund would be made due to damage made by nail holes.
A client of North Down CAB gave her landlord the correct notice to move out of her rented premises. She had to pay one month’s rent in advance plus a deposit (£900) before she moved in. She expected to get £690 back from her landlord however her landlord is only giving her back £465 even though there have been no problems with the condition of the property. The client has no address for her landlord so would be unable to pursue a case through the small claims court for the £225 which she is still owed.
Clients of Dungannon CAB are migrant workers moving into private rented accommodation. They paid a £300 deposit for a property and were given no tenancy agreement, rent book or address for their landlord. They were unable to move in as there was no electric or heating and the flat was infested with rats. The landlord refunded them £80 but they have not received the rest of their money.