When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Can a landlord keep your deposit?

Most landlords will ask you for a deposit. They have to protect this in a deposit scheme. The deposit is your money and you should get it back when you move out. 

The landlord can use this deposit at the end of the tenancy to cover certain costs. You can challenge this. 

Inventories and photographs

An inventory is a statement of the condition and cleanliness of the property and everything in it. You should get one when you move in. 

Check your inventory carefully. Don't accept it until it's a true reflection of the property when you moved in. 

Take photographs of any damage you spot. Send these photographs and a description of the damage to your landlord. 

Landlord deductions from deposit

Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from the deposit if:

  • you've damaged the property
  • you owe money for rent, utility bills or other charges
  • items are missing
  • you haven't cleaned the property
  • you left before the end of your tenancy.

Amount of deductions from your deposit

There are certain rules about how much money a landlord can take from your deposit. 

Deposits and wear and tear

The landlord can't charge you for wear and tear. This is the normal wear you'd expect to see on a property during the time you lived in it. The amount of wear and tear in a property can depend on things like the quality of the carpets and the length of the tenancy. 

Deposits and "like for like"

Your landlord can only charge you to replace the same item you've damaged. They can't charge you the full cost of a new washing machine if the one you broke was 8 years old. They also can't charge you for a better quality version of the machine you broke. They could charge you the value of an 8-year-old washing machine. 

More information about deposit deductions

Your deposit scheme should have information about how it deals with deposit disputes. 

TDS NI has a useful Guide to Deposits, Disputes and Damages.

Disagreeing with your landlord's deductions

If your landlord kept your deposit and you think this was not fair, you can

Deposit schemes have to let your landlord take the money if you owed rent or you left the tenancy early. Get advice if you think you had a good reason for doing this and want to get your deposit back.