What is a tenancy deposit scheme?
A tenancy deposit is money which your landlord may ask you to pay when you start to rent a house, as protection against damages to the property or for unpaid rent. It must be protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Deposits for tenancies outside Northern Ireland or deposits paid before 1 April 2013 do not have to be protected.
Any deposit for a private tenancy taken by a landlord or agent must be protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme.
For any deposit paid between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2023:
It must be protected in an approved scheme within 14 days of it being paid.
The prescribed information about the scheme must be given to the tenant, within 28 days of the landlord receiving the deposit.
For any deposit paid after 1 April 2023:
It must be protected in an approved scheme within 28 days of it being paid.
The prescribed information about the scheme must be given to the tenant, within 35 days of the landlord receiving the deposit.
Types of schemes
There are two types of deposit scheme:
- Custodial scheme: this is where the landlord protects the entire tenant's deposit in the scheme until it becomes due at the end of the tenancy.
- Insurance scheme: this is where the landlord can hold the deposit, on the condition they pay a fee or an insurance premium, or both, to the scheme to protect the deposit, until it becomes due at the end of the tenancy.
The three appointed scheme administrators in Northern Ireland are:
We enforce the scheme for all private rentals in the Belfast City Council area.
If we find a landlord or agent holding a deposit which has not been secured in one of the three approved schemes we can issue them with a fixed penalty that is three times the value of the deposit taken.
The fixed penalty for taking a deposit other than money will be determined by the council and cannot exceed £500.
Any Tenancy Deposit paid after 1 April 2023, cannot be in excess of 1 Month’s rent.
Failure to comply with the above requirements is now a continuous offence throughout any period during which the offence occurs.
Receipt for Rent Paid
Landlords must provide a receipt for rent paid in cash. It must be given when payment is made or as soon as reasonably possible, and should contain:
- Reason for payment
- Amount paid
- Any arrears
Separate receipts must be given for part payments.
You can report a landlord or agent for not complying by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9027 0428.
For more information about the tenancy deposit scheme visit nidirect (link opens in new window).