Recent court judgement allows tenants to recover tenancy fees

A recent court ruling in a case regarding tenancy fees has confirmed that where a Letting Agent passes on to the tenant any part of the costs of work commissioned by the landlord, these costs may be recoverable by the tenant if they have evidence of payment in the last six years.

Whilst the recent court case confirms the current law (the Commission on the Disposal of Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1986), it doesn’t necessarily mean that in all circumstances there will be an automatic entitlement to a refund. It is important therefore that anyone who may have been impacted seeks advice.

Tenants can visit the Housing Rights website or call the Housing Rights helpline on 028 9024 5640 for more information.

Landlords requiring further advice can contact the landlord helpline on 028 9024 5640 selecting option 5.

Read the judgement summary here

Make your voice heard – consultation open on the Private Rented Sector

The Department for Communities is currently reviewing the role and regulations of the private rented sector, and they need your feedback!

We’ve had a look at the proposal document and summarised the key points to give you a quick overview of the topics being covered:

-          Retrospective deposit protection for all deposits received before 1 April 2013

-          Extending the time limit to protect deposits from 14 to 28 days.

-          Removal of the time restriction for prosecutions related to tenancy deposit protection

-        Limiting rent increases to once a year

-          The allowance for penalties for non-compliance to be split between councils and tenants

-        Regulation of letting agents

-          Mandatory protection of deposits within a tenancy deposit protection scheme following fines for non-protection

-          Allowance for scheme administrators to work with housing associations to use monies in designated accounts to invest in affordable housing

-        Introduction of a housing panel

The consultation is open to everyone, including tenants, landlords and letting agents. It closes on 3 April 2017, so make sure to tell the department what you think before then.

If you’d like to find out more about the proposals, the Department for Communities are holding four public events across Northern Ireland:

·             Monday 13 February, 7.00pm – The Sandel Centre, 6 Knocklynn Road, Coleraine

·             Wednesday 15 February, 7.00pm – Craigavon Civic Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon

·             Monday 20 February, 7.00pm – Cookstown Enterprise Centre, Derryloran Industrial Estate, Sandholes Road, Cookstown

·             Wednesday 22 February, 7.00pm – Grosvenor House, 5 Glengall Street, Belfast

The events will include a question and answer session. If you’d like to attend, register your interest before Monday 6 February.

Christmas Opening Hours

On behalf of everyone at LPS Northern Ireland, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Our Customer Service Centre will be open at the following times over the festive period:

Monday 19 December - 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 20 December - 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 21 December - 8am - 6pm
Thursday 22 December - 8am - 6pm
Friday 23 December - 8am - 6pm
Saturday 24 December - Closed
Monday 26th December - Closed
Tuesday 27th December - Closed
Wednesday 28th December - 9am - 5pm
Thursday 29th December - 9am - 5pm
Friday 30 December - 9am - 5pm
Saturday 31 December - Closed
Monday 2 January – Closed
Tuesday 3 January - 8am - 6pm (Business as usual from now on).

Beware of fraudsters targeting tenants

Con artists and fraudsters are constantly changing their tactics. This is why we continually monitor the use of our service, as from time to time tenants can sadly find themselves a target.

We’ve identified a new scam which is targeting tenants using websites such as &

How to spot the scam

First and foremost, we will never ask you to make a payment directly to us.

You should only ever make a deposit payment to the letting agency or landlord, and we advise that wherever possible you inspect the property/room in person before doing so. Always obtain a receipt.

In many scams, communication is conducted via email. Tell-tale signs will be bad spelling or grammar and overly informal language (e.g. “finish the deal”). They may also try to make you feel under pressure to do what they want, and will sometimes ask you to confirm information that they should already have.

We also don’t provide deposit protection for tenancies in the Republic of Ireland, so if you’re told the property is in the South and the deposit is to be protected with us , this should ring alarm bells.

Protecting your money

Fortunately fraudulent landlords and letting agents are a minority in our industry. The majority are genuine and treat their tenants fairly. For further peace of mind, it’s also worth checking if your landlord or agent is a member of an industry body such as the Landlords Association of Northern Ireland (LANI), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). Membership of these schemes indicates that a letting agent/landlord is genuine and committed to improving standards in the private rented sector. If you’re dealing with a letting agent, you can also check if they operate a client money protection scheme. The Safe Agent mark is an industry accreditation that shows an agent uses client money protection, which can also give you additional reassurance about the organisation or person you’re dealing with.

Staying safe online

Here’s a few other tips:

  • Keep your passwords secret
  • Where possible, use passwords that include numbers, capital letters, lower case letters and symbols to make them more secure
  • Don’t write passwords down or save them in your phone
  • Take a good look at emails before clicking on any link – if it looks fake, or the offer sounds too good to be true, then think twice
  • You can also watch our video on ‘phishing’ to help you learn more about staying safe from fraudsters using email as a way to gain your personal information

If you’re still not sure if an email has come from us, please forward it to us here and we’ll let you know if it’s genuine.

UK floods: what happens now

We’ve been saddened to see the impact of the terrible floods that have plagued so many regions of the UK over the last month, and our sympathies go out to all those affected.  While the waters have now receded in many areas, the effects of the inundation will in many cases be long-lived and costly.

The rebuilding process is now underway and whilst the immediate focus is obviously to make homes habitable once more, where the property has been rented out, it’s also worth bearing in mind how the floods may affect the tenancy agreement

How badly a property has been damaged can affect the tenancy and, of course, the tenancy deposit.  If it’s still generally habitable, and can be repaired with the Tenant in situ, then it should be in the mutual interest of the landlord and tenant to work together to limit damage and get the house back in order quickly. Whilst tenants shouldn’t be liable for any damage to the property or contents caused by the floods, they do have a responsibility to allow reasonable access for the landlord or contractors to carry out any work required. It’s vital for affected landlords and tenants to maintain good communication with each other during this period to make sure repairs are completed as soon as possible.

It may be that the property is so severely damaged, that it’s uninhabitable, requiring the tenant to move out whilst repairs are completed. In this situation, the tenant is not usually expected to pay rent for the period they’re unable to live there. In certain cases, the Tenant may even be entitled to terminate the tenancy immediately, and agreements often contain some sort of provision in this regard.  Again, it’s important for landlords and tenants to discuss the situation and agree a course of action together.

If the tenancy does continue after the repairs are complete, we recommend a new inventory is prepared, documenting the condition of the repaired property and any furnishings that have been removed or replaced. The new inventory should detail the extent and quality of the repairs and replacements, along with documentation such as receipts, or insurance claims.  An updated inventory benefits both landlord and tenant with a clear and agreed record of all mid-tenancy changes, and reduces the likelihood of disputes arising when the tenancy comes to an end.  For guidance on how to create a strong inventory, you can find our top 10 tips here.

Our thoughts go out to all affected by the floods.

The LPS Northern Ireland team

Our Christmas Opening Hours

On behalf of everyone at The LPS Northern Ireland, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Our Customer Service Centre will be open at the following times over the festive period:

Monday 21st December - 8am – 6pm
Tuesday 22nd December - 8am – 6pm
Wednesday 23rd December - 8am - 6pm
Thursday 24th December - 8am - 5pm
Friday 25th December - Closed
Saturday 26th December - Closed
Monday 28th December - Closed
Tuesday 29th December - 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 30th December - 9am - 5pm
Thursday 31st December - 9am - 5pm
Friday 1st January - Closed
Saturday 2nd January - Closed
Monday 4th January – 8am - 6pm (Business as usual from now on).

Our top ten inventory tips

Do you know the value of a clear and detailed inventory?

In a deposit dispute, the inventory can be the deciding factor. What's more, it can often prevent a dispute from happening in the first place.

Despite this, we know from our conversations with landlords and letting agents that many of you lack confidence when it comes to inventories and struggle to make yours suitably thorough.

So to help you, our expert adjudicators have pulled together their top 10 inventory tips. Take a look at them and see if your inventories match our adjudicators' advice. It could make a real difference.

                                                                                       [Click to enlarge]

                                                                                       [Click to enlarge]

Christmas Opening Hours

On behalf of everyone at The LPS Northern Ireland, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Our call centre will be open at the following times over the festive period:

  • Monday 22 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Tuesday 23 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 24 December: 8.30am - 4.00pm
  • Thursday 25 December: Closed
  • Friday 26 December: Closed


  • Monday 29 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Tuesday 30 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 31 December: 8.30am - 4.00pm
  • Thursday 1 January: Closed
  • Friday 2 January: 8.30am - 5.30pm

Enhancements to your online account

Following your feedback, we have made some scheme enhancements.

We want to make your life easier, that’s why we have updated our online services.

The end of tenancy process has been enhanced and you can also view repayment claim history online.

Visit our website and log in to your account to get started today.

Keeping it local

From today, you'll be able to contact The LPS Northern Ireland using our new standard rate telephone number, 0330 303 0032.

Following feedback from our customers, we know that many of you get in touch via mobile. Our new 033 number is inclusive in most landline and mobile minute bundles, so you can now use these to contact us!

For other ways to contact us, view our Help page.

We're open this Saturday!


On Saturday, August 31, we’re running a trial weekend call service.

We want to know if it’s more convenient for you, so we've arranged to open the lines from 9am to midday.

T: 0844 472 6688

It’s a one-off – but if it proves popular and productive then we’ll see if we can make it business as usual.

Let us know if you use the service and why not tweet your thoughts to @LPS_NI ?

Kevin Firth, Director

The Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland


We do not spam. Stay informed.


WE know how irritating spam emails are. We do not send junk email.

So when we do email it’s because there’s a specific and good reason. Most often it’s because we’ve been asked for something like an ID reminder. Occasionally we need to tell you about service updates or give security advice.

Sometimes these emails can be mistaken for junk by email providers. Make sure you get the information you need by adding us to your “Safe Senders” list. Some details on that are below.

It’s important you see our emails, and they don’t just end up in Junk. When that happens it’s frustrating for you. From this end we can’t see it’s occurred, and that you haven’t received the information you need.

What to do

The best thing you could do is add our domain address  to your “safe senders” list. Each provider has its own process for adding to Safe Senders.

Some providers – BT and Yahoo for example – require you to set up a “Filter” which keeps our emails out of Junk. For an official guide to that click here.

For convenience, click here for our domain address to appear in an email.


The LPS Northern Ireland team

Deposit protection: this is just the start...

It’s now almost a month since tenancy deposit laws came into force in Northern Ireland but, says LPS Northern Ireland director Kevin Firth, there’s still further to go.

Lawmaker: Kevin (left) meets Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland

Lawmaker: Kevin (left) meets Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland

For deposit protection it was a long road to Stormont. You might already know Northern Ireland was the last region to enforce the laws which have been such a success elsewhere in the UK.

The Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland want to raise standards in the lettings industry; and we’re very pleased and proud to have a role in that process.

For the industry we’re in there are challenges still to meet. It’s no secret that for quite a small market Northern Ireland is very well served with protection schemes – there are no fewer than seven at the last count.

At those ratios, making any of the schemes financially viable is going to be a huge challenge. We’re confident that our greater experience and dedication to providing the best service in the market will play a part in meeting that goal.

The timescales given to landlords to register deposits – 14 days – is the shortest in the UK. In Scotland, England and Wales landlords have 30 days; which allows them enough time to not accidentally fall foul of the law with a poorly timed holiday, for example. That means landlords and letting agents in Northern Ireland need to be more vigilant than their colleagues elsewhere in the UK.

Guinness record

Before the laws came into force it was our pleasure to undertake a mini “tour” of Northern Ireland, holding seminars on best practice in Belfast, Derry and Coleraine. The reception we received was truly fantastic – huge thanks to everybody who came along.

To single out Coleraine: what a lovely part of the world! Not only do you have the Giant’s Causeway on your doorstep but the price of a pint of Guinness was a cheerful £2.50! As someone who’s recently had to pay £4.80 for a pint of Guinness that felt very good...

We’re planning to return to Northern Ireland soon to carry on building our relationships with the industry; relationships which have already got off to such a good start.

So if you’ve got a big event planned then just let us know – we’d love to hear from you and hopefully we might come along.

Visit us at

Avoiding deposit protection fines

Fines are anything but fine, says Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland director Kevin Firth.

Kevin Firth

Fines are the most teeth-grindingly annoying things on earth.

Parking tickets, for example. It’s not so much that I’ll miss that money (although I will) and it’s not that I don’t understand the principle (because I do).

It’s that someone else – who wears a special hat – has come along and put that hideous yellow square on my car and I have to swallow it. Because, basically, I made it happen when really I didn't need to!

It’s the same with the new tenancy laws coming to Northern Ireland on April 1. There’s just no reason to let yourself fall foul of the regulations, because our service is free, secure, easy and tried-and-tested by hundreds of thousands of landlords.

How does it work?

From April 1 all tenancy deposits in Northern Ireland have to be registered within 14 days with one of the approved protection schemes, of which we are one.

When the tenancy comes to an end one of three things will happen:

The deposit will be returned to the tenant in full
Landlord and tenant agree to split the deposit, or that the landlord should have it
Landlord and tenant make use of our free, independent dispute resolution service to decide who should get what

It’s worth remembering: with us the service is free at every point.

What happens if I don’t register a tenant’s deposit?

Again, this really shouldn't happen and no one wants to see landlords being fined. But what could happen is this:

If you receive a deposit after April 1 the stopwatch starts ticking for two timescales:

1.   You have 14 days to register with an approved deposit protection scheme.

2.   You have 28 days to let your tenant know you have protected their deposit.

After 28 days the tenant can complain to their district council that too much time has passed since paying their deposit without you providing evidence to them of having registered the money with an approved scheme.

Now... you’re risking a whopping £20,000 fine if the case ends up in court. What could also happen is that an officer of the district council (with or without special hat) will issue you with a fixed penalty up to three times the amount of the tenancy deposit. So for a deposit of £800 the fine could be £2,400.

It’s a sizeable sum and not to be risked.

Visit our website here to see what we can do for you – we make it easy to protect your tenant’s deposits. Now, where’s that parking fine I need to pay….

Welcome to The Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland!

As you may know, The Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland has introduced The Tenancy Deposit Schemes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, which means that landlords and letting agents will need to protect their tenant’s deposits in a Government approved scheme.

The Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland (The LPS NI) has been approved to run both a custodial and an insured tenancy deposit scheme. The custodial scheme will launch on the 1st April 2013, with further details about the other scheme to be released at a later date.

If you have properties in Northern Ireland, the key aspects you need to be aware of are:

Landlords will have 14 days to protect deposits from the date they receive the deposit from the tenant.
Written confirmation must be supplied by the scheme to the landlord as soon as is reasonably practical.
Landlords will have 28 days from the receipt of the deposit to serve written confirmation to the tenant.
At the end of the tenancy, if the tenant requests the deposit and the landlord does not respond within 30 days, the deposit will be automatically returned to the tenant.
If the landlord requests part or all of the deposit at the end of the tenancy and the tenant does not respond within 30 days, the requested amount will be repaid to the landlord.
If, at the end of the tenancy, the landlord and the tenant cannot agree on the amount of deposit to be repaid, LPS NI will offer a free Dispute Resolution Mechanism

The LPS NI will be operated by the same company who run The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) and The Letting Protection Service Scotland (The LPS Scotland). The DPS was the first company to be approved to run both types of deposit protection schemes in England and Wales. The LPS Scotland was the first scheme to be approved by the Scottish Government, and its custodial scheme launched in July 2012.

Experience matters and having already established The DPS and The LPS Scotland from the beginning we know how to support landlords and letting agents through the transition of new legislation. We’ve established tried and tested systems, developed robust processes and continually innovate to ensure we’re providing the best possible service to our customers.

If you’re looking to find out more, visit our website at

We have also launched a new twitter account to keep you up to date on the latest news about the legislation and your requirements to comply, so follow us @LPS_NI