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….