When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Deposit protection for joint tenants

Your landlord must protect your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme.  Always check to make sure the landlord has done this. You should get a certificate to confirm that the deposit was protected.

Deposits in shared tenancies

The entire deposit for a shared property is normally protected as a lump sum. One tenant will act as the lead tenant. The lead tenant is the only tenant who can

  • contact the deposit company about the deposit
  • apply to have the deposit back at the end of the tenancy
  • ask the deposit company to investigate if you disagree with the landlord's deductions. 

Who is the lead tenant?

One person has to be the lead tenant. You can decide between you or the landlord can choose. 

The landlord can change the lead tenant if needed. They will need to show that all the other tenants have agreed to this change. 

You can ask the landlord to change the lead tenant if you are unhappy with the current arrangements. But, the landlord has to make the actual change.  

What happens at the end of the tenancy?

Your landlord can keep some of your deposit if you owe them money or have caused damage. They should pay the rest of the deposit back to you. 

The way your deposit is paid back depends on whether your landlord put your money into 

  • an insurance-based scheme or
  • a custodial scheme.

In an insurance scheme, the landlord should pay you back directly. The lead tenant can contact the deposit scheme if they think the landlord's deductions are unfair. 

In a custodial scheme the landlord should tell the scheme how much to pay back to the tenants. The lead tenant can ask the deposit company for the deposit back if the landlord doesn't do this.

Do all tenants get the same amount back?

The landlord will usually say how much money should be returned to each tenant. 

The lead tenant can disagree with 

  • the amount the landlord is keeping, and
  • the way the money has been divided between tenants. 

The lead tenant can ask for adjudication if they disagree with the amount the landlord keeps. This is where the deposit company decides who should get the money. 

The lead tenant can agree with the amount returned, but disagree with the amount each tenant gets. If the other tenants disagree with this, the company will split the money evenly. 

Get advice if you are worried about getting your deposit back.