#AskTDS: “When should my landlord return my deposit?”
In this week’s #AskTDS we answer a tenant's query: "When should my landlord return my deposit?"
Law regarding returning tenancy deposits
As confirmed by the Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) legislation, your landlord must return your tenancy deposit within 5 days of you both agreeing how much should be returned. Depending on the type of tenancy deposit scheme where your deposit is protected and whether your landlord is seeking to make any deductions, the time to get your tenancy deposit back can vary.
Different scheme rules
There are three government-approved TDP schemes available in Northern Ireland. The three schemes offer two different ways to protect tenancy deposits an insured or custodial scheme. Each TDP scheme will have operational rules for their tenancy deposit schemes; at TDS, the process to register and manage the return of a tenancy deposit varies between our Insured and Custodial schemes.
Insured scheme rules
If your deposit is protected in our Insured Scheme, the landlord must pay your deposit back within 5 days of your request for the deposit to be returned, less any amounts they are seeking to retain for an agreed deduction.
TDS won’t be able to return your deposit if it is protected in our Insured scheme because it is held by the landlord or the appointed letting agent. If your landlord is using an insurance-based scheme, once they receive your request of repayment, they will then either repay the deposit or let you know what they may propose to deduct for any identified issues such as cleaning, damage or outstanding rent.
Custodial scheme rules
If your deposit is protected in our Custodial Scheme, you can request the repayment of your deposit any time after your tenancy ends. To do this you must log into your TDS Custodial account and make a request for a deposit repayment. We will notify your landlord and invite them to respond. If your landlord agrees with the request, we will repay the deposit within 5 working days. If the landlord does not agree, they will be given the opportunity to propose deductions for the tenant to consider. If the tenant agrees to the deductions, the payments are then made to the parties. If he tenant doesn’t agree to the deductions they can ask to use our Dispute Resolution Mechanism to resolve the matter.
How can I find out where my deposit is protected?
You can find out if your deposit is protected with TDS using the links below:
If your deposit is not protected with TDS it may be protected by one of the other two tenancy deposit protection providers. You will need to contact them to find out if your deposit is protected by them.
What if my landlord is seeking deductions from my deposit?
If your landlord is seeking to make deductions from your deposit to cover issues with your tenancy, they should write to you and inform you of the amount they believe they are entitled to, and why. If you are unclear what the deductions are for, you should seek clarity from your landlord or the letting agent. The TDP service will not have any information about the landlord's claim at this point.
If you believe that the landlord's claim to money from the deposit is fair, then you and the landlord can agree the figure between you. Once the figure is agreed the parties can action the return of any undisputed sums.
What if I disagree with the deductions my landlord is seeking?
If you do not agree with the deductions, then you may need to use our alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service, but only if the tenancy deposit was registered for protection with TDS. Each TDP service provides its own dispute service free of charge, but you should try and resolve the matter about the return of the deposit directly with your landlord or letting agent first. Most disputes can be resolved quickly through clear communication between the parties.
If you ask TDS to resolve the dispute, an adjudicator will look over the evidence provided by both you and the landlord or their letting agent and we will hold the disputed amount during the adjudication process. Once a decision has been made, and we have published our report of adjudication, we have to allow a 10 day period for an appeal before we pay out the deposit. Our ADR service involves allowing the parties to upload evidence into an online portal and once all has been collated and reviewed the adjudicator will, on average, produce a report within 8 calendar days (April to September 2018).
When to take a dispute to court
TDS is only able to provide dispute resolution for matters concerning the tenancy deposit. If you wish to make a counter claim, you will need to seek a resolution elsewhere, this may involve going to court. As the deposit is the tenant's money held in security by the landlord against the tenant's obligations under the tenancy agreement, we are unable to consider any claims the tenant may have against the landlord or letting agent.
TDS regularly publishes case studies of previous disputes, and should you wish to raise a dispute you can also refer to our guide on how to submit a dispute. We recommend that landlords, agents and tenants engage in open communication throughout the tenancy so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and expectations to prevent disputes from arising. In fact, less than 1% of tenancies protected with TDS end in dispute.
For more tenant tips please view our tenant FAQ page.
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.
ARLA|Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact Propertymark | ARLA at: firstname.lastname@example.org. By being a member of Propertymark | ARLA you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.
RLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can contact the RLA at: email@example.com and quote reference: dg715 to receive 25% off your first year's membership.