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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Deposits in private tenancies

Most landlords will ask for a security deposit from each tenant in a property. This money is used as insurance against any damage you may cause or rent you may owe at the end of the tenancy. Any deposit paid on or after 1 April 2013 has to be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. 

It can be difficult to gather up a deposit as well as a month's rent in advance. There are a few places that may agree to provide your landlord with a guarantee or work out a payment plan, allowing you to pay off your deposit in installments.

You'll usually have to pay out quite a bit of money when you first move in. Most landlords will expect a month's rent as a security deposit and insist on rent being paid in advance. If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to housing benefit to help you meet the cost of your rent, but this is always paid in arrears. Make sure you get receipts for any money you pay out and keep these safe.

Any deposit paid on or after 1 April 2013 must be protected in one of the 3 authorised Tenancy Deposit Schemes approved by the Department for Communities. Your landlord or agent must provide you with information on the deposit scheme he or she is using and a list of other prescribed information within 28 days of you handing the money over.

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 that the deposit company will deal with. 

Most tenants pay a security deposit when they move into a property. This is the tenant's money and should be returned at the end of the tenancy unless the tenant owes the landlord money. The deposit should be returned in full unless the landlord has suffered a genuine financial loss as a result of your actions. If your landlord has unfairly kept some of your deposit you should try to get this money back.

Some rental properties are offered with "zero deposit". Instead of paying a full deposit, you pay a fee. The fee is normally about one week's rent. You won't get this fee back at the end of your tenancy and you will still be responsible for paying the landlord for any rent arrears you owe or damages you have caused.