When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland


This page only contains basic information and is the English version of our translated content.  For more detailed advice and information on housing in Northern Ireland in the English language, use the menu options on the homepage. 

Most landlords will ask for a deposit before you move into the property. A deposit is usually a month’s rent in advance and gives the landlord security in case of damage, theft or rent arrears. If you paid your deposit on or after 1 April 2013 your landlord must register the deposit in an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme which has been approved by the Department for Communities. 

Why do I need the inventory list?

Your landlord should give you an inventory when you move into the property. The inventory lists everything that the landlord has provided with the accommodation, for example, furniture, carpets and curtains. If you don’t get an inventory at the start of your tenancy, it may be difficult to prove that the landlord is keeping your deposit unfairly.

When do I get my deposit back?

You should get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy. Before you leave the accommodation arrange for the landlord to inspect the property. Your landlord can check the contents of the accommodation against the inventory.

If there is no damage and your rent is up-to-date, your landlord should give you back your deposit. Sometimes landlords refuse to refund your money until they get proof that you have paid all the bills. Your landlord is responsible for returning your deposit even if you originally paid it to a letting agency.

If you paid your deposit on or after 1 April 2013 it should have been protected in an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme.  You should have been provided with information explaining how to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy. 

When can my landlord keep my deposit?

Your landlord can make deductions from the deposit if:

  • the property has been damaged,
  • the rent hasn't been paid,
  • items are missing,
  • the property needs to be cleaned,
  • you left before the end of your tenancy.

Your landlord can only keep the value of repairing or replacing any damaged item 'like for like', not the cost of the item brand new. You are only required to put right any damage or clean any items soiled above normal wear and tear. Your landlord can only take money for the financial loss he/she suffered.

It is illegal for the landlord to keep your deposit for other reasons, such as holding a noisy party. Even if your landlord has a valid reason for keeping part of your deposit, you should get the rest of the sum back.

Make sure you fully understand what the deposit covers at the start of the tenancy, and the circumstances when the landlord can retain the deposit. If you are having problems getting your landlord to return your deposit at the end of your tenancy, contact a local advice agency.