Private landlords in Larne are being urged to protect themselves against hefty fines by ensuring that deposits taken from tenants are secured in a government-approved scheme.
From the April 1, 2013, all landlords and letting agents in Northern Ireland must protect tenancy deposits with a licenced scheme.
The law was introduced to ensure that tenants are able to get their deposit back from a landlord or agent when they move out, provided they have met the terms of their tenancy agreement.
And it has emerged that Larne Borough Council recently fined a local landlord £1,650 for breaching the legislation.
The local authority received a formal complaint from the tenant of a private landlord in September last year, alleging that their deposit of £550 had not been secured in an approved scheme.
The council carried out an investigation in the complaint and was satisfied there was sufficient evidence that an offence had been committed.
A fixed penalty was issued to the landlord and was paid in December.
The new legislation states that landlords must protect a deposit with a government licenced scheme within 14 days.
Key information about the deposit protection must also be provided within 28 days.
A tenant can contact the council’s Environmental Health Officer if a landlord has not protected their deposit or issued them with the written information.
The local authority can ask the landlord to pay three times the amount of the deposit as a fine for not following the proper procedures and breaking the law.
The council may also take court action and the court could fine offenders up to £20,000.