If your deposit was protected in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme, you can use the dispute resolution process if you disagree with your landlord's decision to keep some or all of your deposit.
If you paid your deposit before 1 April 2013 your landlord didn't have to protect it. You'll need to negotiate with your landlord to try to get the money back.
Write to your landlord
- the reason the landlord is holding the deposit
- the costs deducted from your deposit.
Give your landlord a deadline to reply (such as within two weeks). Keep a copy of the letter. Your landlord may reply with a list of the deductions from your deposit rather than returning it. If you don't agree with some or all of the costs you will need to write again. If your landlord doesn't respond to your letter at all, write again once the deadline has passed.
A second letter to the landlord
- your landlord did not reply to your first letter
- you disagree with any of the costs your landlord is deducting from your deposit
- you agree with some, but not all of the costs your landlord is deducting from your deposit.
Your letter should state:
- which costs (if any) you think are unreasonable
- the reasons why you think the costs are unreasonable
- the amount of money you think should be returned to you.
Give your landlord a deadline for a second reply. State that you will take your landlord to court if you don't get your deposit back by this date.
Help to write your letters
HousingadviceNI has a tool to help you write letters to your landlord about deposits, repairs and other issues. Click here to get started.
Taking your landlord to court
If you don't get a reply or your landlord still won't give you the money, you can try to get your money back by taking your landlord to court. The court can order your landlord to give you back your deposit. You may not even have to go to a court hearing if your landlord pays before the hearing takes place.
The small claims court deals with disputes about deposits. The court procedure is straightforward and you don't need a solicitor to take an action in the small claims court. You have to pay a certain amount of money to the court to start your claim. You can claim this back from your landlord if you win. If you don't win you will lose this money.
If you win, the court will order your landlord to pay your claim. If your landlord doesn't pay up, the court will advise you on any further action it may be possible to take. If you lose the case there may be nothing more you can do to get your deposit back. Your court fees will not be refunded.
Need help solving a problem?
You should always get advice if you are having problems with a tenancy. You can contact Housing Rights for advice on your rights. Housing Rights can also provide a mediation service if you and your landlord are having problems and need an independent person to help resolve these.