#AskTDS: “How do I return the deposit to students leaving a property?”
In this week’s #AskTDS, we answer a landlord’s question; “How do I return a deposit to students leaving a property at the end of a tenancy?”
Like all tenants leaving a property at the end of a tenancy term, students are keen to get their tenancy deposit back as quickly as possible and with minimal difficulty. For this group of tenants there could be the added incentive that they may be moving away after university, possibly travelling, or funding the tenancy deposit on their next home.
It’s also beneficial for landlords to manage the return of the deposit in a timely manner as it can generate positive feedback from former tenants which, in turn, can avoid costly disputes, and minimise additional paperwork.
How a tenancy deposit is returned, for students as for all tenants, is dependent on which tenancy deposit scheme has been used. If the deposit is protected by the TDSNI Insured scheme, it should be returned within 5 working days of the tenant(s) making a request for their deposit to be returned. This should include any agreed deductions and the return of the undisputed portion being taken into account and actioned promptly. If the Insured scheme is in use, the landlord holds the deposit and is responsible for managing the deposit repayment.
If a tenancy deposit is registered in the TDSNI Custodial scheme, the tenancy deposit is lodged and held by TDSNI, and a tenant can request for their deposit to be returned any time after their tenancy lawfully ends. Parties can simply login to the TDSNI website and click ‘request repayment of deposit’ in the deposit summary section. This process will then lead to any agreed sum being returned if the correct bank details have been updated by the user.
In the case of a number of sharers moving into a property, it’s best for the parties to be aware of the amount each tenant has paid towards the deposit – meaning that when it comes to returning the deposit, everyone is aware what proportion they may be due. If using the TDSNI Insured scheme, the landlord will be holding the tenancy deposit and, if there is a suitable agreement in place, this can be paid in the correct amounts to each tenant moving out.
Whether the whole amount is returned will depend on whether any deductions have been made as agreed. In order that a dispute doesn’t arise, a clearly written tenancy agreement should be in place at the beginning of a tenancy, outlining the reasons why a deposit has been taken. This would set out potential reasons for deductions to be made. This kind of preparation is key in avoiding unnecessary disputes later on down the line. If an agreement cannot be found, then TDSNI’s free dispute resolution service can be used. Where possible TDSNI will try to help the parties resolve the dispute informally. If that is not successful, an independent adjudicator which will look at all of the information available and come to a decision about what deductions, in any, can be fairly made at the end of a tenancy.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland's leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.
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