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A deposit is a sum of money which is held against damage to the property or used to cover unpaid rent or utility bills. It can also be used to cover cleaning, removal of rubbish and the cost of replacing locks in the house, if keys are lost or not returned on time, as per your agreement with the landlord or letting agent.

Deductions from your deposit cannot be made for general wear and tear of the property and any proposed deductions should be reasonable. When paying your deposit, always ask for a receipt. In addition any proposed deposit deductions should not be for the financial betterment of the landlord.

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  • How much is a deposit?

    A deposit will usually amount to one month’s rent. Before April 1st, landlords may have asked for a larger deposit from students who were unable to provide a guarantor. However, since April 1st 2023, a deposit is legally not allowed to amount to more than one month of the rent of the property. Your landlord or letting agent should make you aware of how much your deposit will be and it should also be clearly stipulated on your tenancy agreement. If it is not, make sure you ask that this be included.  

  • Tenancy Deposit Protection

    The law states that deposits paid on or after 1 April 2013 by tenants in the private rented sector must be protected by your landlord in a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme. There are three such schemes in Northern Ireland – TDS NI and MyDeposits. These schemes make sure your deposit is safe and have fair dispute processes that you can use if necessary.

    Make sure your landlord has secured your deposit with one of these schemes within 28 days of paying your money. Within 35 days you should have been provided with full details (called your ‘prescribed information’) about the scheme and your landlord. If you have not been sent your information and therefore you are not sure whether your landlord has secured your deposit, we strongly advise you to contact them and ask for confirmation.

    If your landlord hasn’t provided you with the prescribed information within 35 days or you know they have not protected your deposit, you can report them to the Environmental Health in Belfast City Council, which has the power to fine them up to three times the amount of the deposit or if prosecuted in court, up to £20,000. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have the prescribed information within 35 days and contact the necessary agencies promptly if you don’t. You can find more about the Deposit Protection Scheme at

  • Inventories

    Sadly, disputes over deposits and proposed deductions arise in many cases. A way to avoid deductions or to prepare for this situation is to ensure an in-depth and accurate inventory is drawn up for the property at the beginning of the tenancy. An inventory is a list of all furniture, fittings and other equipment provided by the landlord. It is best to complete this within the first few days of moving in and make sure it is signed by both you and the letting agent or landlord.

    You should make sure any issues not noted on the inventory are added on and that you take photographs of everything in case you need this at a later stage to act as evidence. It will be beneficial to keep a copy of your inventory to use at the end of your tenancy when you are checking out so that you can refer back to it. If you have not been provided with an inventory by your landlord or letting agent, make sure you draft one yourself. Include the condition of everything from the walls, floors and doors to underneath the cushions on the sofa and again, take photographs.