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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Insurance based deposit protection scheme

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can get advice by calling 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. 

You will need to pay a fee to use one of the Insurance Based schemes. Remember, the scheme you use must be operated by one of the 3 approved scheme administrators. You do not have to hand the deposit over to the scheme administrator but you must still supply all the prescribed information to the scheme and your tenants or face a fixed penalty or fine.

In addition to the fee you pay the scheme administrator you may also have to make a contribution to any insurance costs they incur. Information about these fees should be included in the administrator’s terms and conditions. 

Protecting the deposit

Under an insurance based scheme you do not have to hand the deposit over to the scheme administrator.  Within 14 days of receiving the deposit you must

  • pay the administrator a fee and, in some cases, a contribution towards the insurance costs of the scheme and
  • supply all the required information set out below to the scheme administrator.

You must also supply certain information to the tenant(s) within 28 days of receiving the deposit.

Required information

To comply with the scheme and avoid financial penalties you must also supply particular information to both the scheme administrator and the tenant within a specific timeframe.  Failing to supply this information is as serious a breach of the law as is failing to register the deposit so make sure you give this information to the necessary people in time. 

You must give the following information to the scheme administrator within 14 days of receiving the deposit

  • the amount of the deposit and the full address of the property in question
  • your full name and date of birth
  • your contact details, including your address, telephone number, mobile number and a valid contact email address
  • a correspondence address, which must be in Northern Ireland, if this differs from the address above
  • the name, address and contact details of any agent operating on your behalf
  • confirmation of the tenant’s contact details including contact details of any relevant person who is acting on the tenant’s behalf.

Once they receive the deposit and required information from you the scheme administrator must write to you, and provide the amount of the deposit and the full address of the property in question

  • the tenant’s details, including contact details
  • details of the scheme that the deposit has been placed in
  • details of the dispute resolution mechanism
  • details of how the deposit will be refunded and confirming the circumstances under which you can retain some or all of the deposit
  • a statement to show that the onus is on you to update the scheme administrator immediately of any change to the details you had previously supplied and
  • information on what will happen if the administrator cannot contact you at the end of the tenancy.

The scheme administrator must also supply you with a leaflet which contains information on

  • how the scheme operates
  • the terms and conditions that apply to the scheme
  • the procedures governing the payment, holding and repayment of tenancy deposits and
  • the dispute resolution mechanism.

You must give the following information to the tenants in the property within 28 days of receiving the deposit

  • the amount of the deposit and the full address of the property in question
  • your full name and date of birth
  • your contact details, including your address, telephone number, mobile number and a valid contact email address
  • a correspondence address, which must be in Northern Ireland, if this differs from the address above
  • the name, address and contact details of any agent operating on your behalf
  • confirmation of the tenant’s contact details including contact details of any relevant person who is acting on the tenant’s behalf
  • details of the scheme in which you’ve placed the deposit including information about how to resolve a dispute
  • details of how the deposit will be refunded and the circumstances under which you can retain some or all of the deposit
  • what will happen if the tenant is not contactable at the end of the tenancy and
  • a copy of the leaflet you were given by the scheme administrator.

You need to certify that the information you’ve given the tenant is correct to the best of your knowledge and you have to give the tenant an opportunity to sign the document to show that the tenant is happy that the information is correct.

End of the tenancy

If your tenant is not going to move out at the end of the tenancy and the tenancy continues on a periodic basis, you'll need to contact the deposit company to make sure the deposit continues to be registered.  You may be able to mark the tenancy as "periodic" online via your deposit company's website.

When the tenancy ends you should do a full check out inspection.  It’s best if you do this with the tenant present.  You should record any damage against the inventory you took at the beginning of the tenancy and discuss with the tenant what, if any, deductions are reasonable.

It will be very difficult to keep any money in the event of a dispute unless you can show that you've taken a full and detailed inventory at both check in and check out. 

The tenant should contact you asking for the deposit to be returned.  You must return this within 5 working days of receiving the tenant’s request.  Make sure you keep confirmation of this transaction and get the tenant to confirm, in writing, that he or she received the money.

If the tenant disagrees with your decision to keep some of the deposit or you have failed to return the money requested within 5 working days of receiving the tenant’s letter, he or she can write to the scheme administrator.

At this point, the administrator will ask you to pay any disputed amount into a designated account.  You must do this within 5 working days of being instructed to do so.  The scheme administrator will also ask you to write to them setting out whether you believe the outstanding money should be paid to the tenant or not. 

Disputes

If the tenant decides to use the dispute resolution mechanism to resolve any disagreements over the deposit, you'll have to agree to this.  Once the dispute is resolved the administrator will pay any disputed amount as per outcome of the dispute resolution service.

The tenant can choose not to use the deposit company's dispute service and to try to recover the deposit money through Small Claims Court instead.  However, if he or she wants to use the scheme's dispute service, you have to comply with this request.