#AskTDS NI: “Does the deposit cover unpaid utility bills if my tenant does not pay them?” RSS feed

#AskTDS NI: “Does the deposit cover unpaid utility bills if my tenant does not pay them?”

In this week’s #AskTDS NI, we answer a landlord’s question: “Does the deposit cover unpaid utility bills if my tenant does not pay them?”

In general terms, the landlord must show that they have suffered a loss in order to claim from the tenancy deposit. If the utilities are not paid, it doesn’t always mean that the landlord has suffered a financial loss. If prepared correctly, the utility accounts and any resulting debts would remain the responsibility of the tenant, not the landlord.


If the landlord and tenant agree that the tenant is responsible for the utilities, they should ensure that the tenancy agreement clearly outlines what these responsibilities are. The tenancy agreement should reflect the obligation for the tenant to transfer the utility accounts into their name and clearly explain the tenant’s responsibility to pay the utility bills. If, at the end of the tenancy, the tenant fails to pay the utility bills, it will remain the tenant’s responsibility to settle these debts.

In some cases, the tenant may vacate the property early and notify the utility provider of the date they vacated and not the date the tenancy ended. In this instance, it is common for the utility provider to request a copy of the tenancy agreement to verify the end date of the tenancy and therefore confirm the tenant’s responsibility.

Communal Utilities

Service and block management charges are another common cause of uncertainty.  Your tenancy agreement is a key document to outline responsibility in this area. However, it is also worth ensuring that you are also fully aware of what these charges cover and who the responsible party ultimately is for their payment. In new build developments, you may also need to ensure that the meters/charges are being correctly directed to the right premises.

You may want to consider seeking legal advice to ensure your tenancy agreement is suitable in instances such as this.

Case Studies

Each month we publish an Adjudication Digest case study, which explains why an adjudicator has made an award to a landlord, agent or tenant. There are several case studies relating to bills under the ‘Rent, bills and fees’ menu on the left of the case studies page including a recent case study about communal heating and hot water charges.

For more landlord tips, please view our landlord FAQ page.

Simple Deposit Protection

Joining TDS NI is simple!

It only takes a few minutes to join today.

We’ve also made this easy if you’d like to transfer from another scheme. Visit our switch page and we’ll handle the rest.


The Tenancy Deposit Scheme NI is part of The Dispute Service (TDS), the leading tenancy deposit protection and resolution service provider in the UK making life easier for tens of thousands of agents, landlords, developers, and millions of tenants and homebuyers. TDS is a not-for-profit company with offices in Hemel Hempstead, Glasgow, and Belfast.

For more information visit https://www.tdsnorthernireland.com/home/


<Back to News