Any deposits taken on or after 1 April 2013 must be registered with an authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme administrator. Deposits taken before that date don't need to be registered with one of these schemes.
The Housing Amendment Act (NI) 2011 introduced a legal requirement for any deposits taken as part of a residential tenancy to be registered with a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This requirement will apply to any deposits taken on or after 1 April 2013. Find out more about the requirements and appointed scheme administrators.
The custodial scheme is free for both landlords and tenants to use. There are strict time limits within which you must give the scheme administrator the deposit and a list of prescribed information. You must also provide the tenant with a list of required information within a set time limit. Failing to protect the deposit or provide the current information can lead to a fixed penalty or prosecution. Find out more about the requirements of the Custodial Scheme.
If you use the insurance based scheme you'll be able to hold on to the deposit but will have to pay a fee to the scheme administrator. You will also be subject to strict time limits for registering the deposit and giving prescribed information to the scheme administrator and the tenant. Like the custodial scheme penalties will apply if you fail to act within the required timeframe. Find out more about the requirements of the Insurance based Scheme.
If, at the end of the tenancy, you and your tenants are unable to agree on how to refund the deposit you will be referred by the scheme administrator to a Dispute Resolution Service. The adjudicator will look at the evidence and decide how the money should be returned. Find out more about adjudication and how to avoid disputes.