On 1st April 2013 my|deposits Northern Ireland, a Government supported Tenancy Deposit Scheme in Northern Ireland, will go live. This means landlords/agents who take deposits on private tenancies, can protect the deposit in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Schemes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (“the Regulations”).
My|Deposits Northern Ireland offers two options; an Insurance-based Scheme and a Custodial Scheme.
In the Insurance based scheme the landlord/agent will hold on to the deposit themselves for the duration of the tenancy. Upon receiving the deposit money the landlord/agent has 14 days to protect the deposit with the Scheme and 28 days to provide the prescribed Regulation 12 Information to the tenant. When the tenancy has ended the tenant must request back the deposit and, if the returned amount is agreed, the landlord is expected to return it within 5 working days. In the event of a disagreement the tenant can raise a deposit dispute with the Scheme. The landlord must lodge the disputed deposit amount with the Scheme within 5 working days of notification of the dispute. There are obvious benefits of this type of the insurance-based scheme; aside from the free and impartial dispute resolution mechanism, the deposit is still under the landlord’s/agent’s control, allowing any issues to be resolved directly with the tenant if possible. There will be a fee for the landlord/agent to use the my|deposits Northern Ireland insurance-based scheme.
The Custodial scheme requires the landlord to lodge the deposit with the Scheme within 14 days of receipt and to provide the prescribed Regulation 12 Information to the tenant within 28 days. The scheme is free to join and only requires a one off registration. The landlord can then input the deposit and tenant’s key details, lodge the money and the deposit is protected. At the end of the tenancy the landlord will request the release of the deposit. If the tenant agrees with the landlord’s release request then the Scheme will pay the money back to the parties within 5 working days. If the parties do not agree on the amounts to be returned the matter can be resolved using the Scheme’s free and impartial dispute resolution mechanism. The my|deposits Northern Ireland custodial scheme will be completely free to use but the landlord/agent must lodge the full deposit amount with the scheme for the duration of the tenancy.
Why have Tenancy Deposit Schemes been introduced?
The Regulations provide for a third party that protects tenancy deposits, preventing unfair withdrawal of any or all the deposit by landlords and agents. It also offers fast and safe repayment of deposits. If the deposit is undisputed the money will be returned to the tenant and landlord within 5 working days. If the amount due to be returned is in disagreement the Scheme will then offer free dispute services to resolve issues regarding the deposit without taking the matter to court. The Northern Ireland Government expects the new schemes to improve and raise the standards of deposit management in the rental market.
For further information about my|deposits Northern Ireland, or to register with the scheme visit the website at www.mydepositsni.co.uk or telephone the helpline on 0845 218 1060.
Legal Services Manager
Hamilton Fraser Insurance – www.totallandlordinsurance.co.uk
my|deposits, my|deposits Scotland, my|deposits Northern Ireland – www.mydeposits.co.uk