Greater protection for tenants

TENANTS living in private rented accommodation in the borough will have their deposits protected through a new statutory procedure.

From April 1, a safeguard will be put in place for the sector in Northern Ireland similar to a scheme which has been operating in England for a number of years.

The Housing Rights Service charity has welcomed the development.

Last year, the organisation dealt with almost 11,000 enquiries about the private rented sector. This is around one third of its total advice work.

The organisation will be running seminars in Belfast, Coleraine and Dungannon, next month, about what the scheme will mean for landlords and tenants.

Under the new scheme, all landlords must protect the tenancy deposit through one of the scheme administrators within 14 days of receipt of the deposit from the tenant.

They must also inform the tenant within 28 days of receipt of the deposit of details of the scheme under which the deposit has been protected.

The scheme also provides access to a dispute resolution mechanism at the end of the tenancy where there are any disputes about the repayment of the deposit.

Nicola McCrudden, Housing Rights Service policy manager, said: “The new system will be much fairer and will go a long way to helping tenants who can often struggle to get their deposits returned.”