A security deposit is normally paid by a tenant to a landlord or agent at the beginning of a tenancy and should be returned “promptly” once the tenancy ends. The deposit does not have to be returned to you on the day that you leave the accommodation.
Although there is no specific timeframe is set down in law, Threshold recommends that under normal circumstances a deposit should be returned within 14 days of the end of a tenancy.
By law your landlord may retain part or all of your deposit under the following grounds only:
If at the end of your tenancy, there is rent outstanding, your landlord may legitimately retain part or all of your deposit to cover the arrears.
Damage to the property above normal wear and tear
Deductions may be made, or the deposit retained in full if there has been damage to the property above normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear, is the deterioration that occurs over a period of time due to ordinary and reasonable use of a premises.
Before leaving you should clean the property thoroughly, remove all your belongings, dispose of all rubbish and take dated photos to show the condition in which it was returned. Ideally you should request a final inspection of the property with the landlord/agent.
If your landlord claims that there has been damage to the property, they should provide receipts/invoices showing the costs incurred in carrying out any necessary repairs.
If you owe money for utility bills, such as gas or electricity, and the utility bill is in the landlord’s name, they may withhold part or all of the deposit to cover these costs. Request a copy of the bill to ensure you are paying only what you owe.
Sharing with the owner
If you were renting a room(s) as a licensee and your deposit is not returned or deductions are made which you feel are unfair then as a licensee, you cannot refer a dispute to the RTB but you may be able to take action through the small claims court. You can apply online for €25 at www.courts.ie and more information is available in the download opposite.
What if I pay a deposit and don’t move in?
If you pay a booking deposit to secure a property and then decide not to move in, you risk losing all or part of the deposit which a landlord may seek to retain to cover any costs incurred such as re-letting fees or lost rent. You should seek evidence of any alleged costs incurred.
As a tenancy has not been created in this scenario, you cannot avail of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) dispute resolution service to try to get back the money you paid. You may be able to pursue it through the small claims court at a cost of €25 see www.courts.ie
Be aware of possible scams aimed at getting deposits/rent from prospective tenants and if you have any concerns that you may be the victim of fraud, contact the gardai immediately.
What to do
If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit, you should request the prompt return of the deposit in writing.
If your landlord claims there are rent arrears, outstanding utility bills or that there has been damage to the property, you should request documentary evidence from your landlord to back up these claims.
If you are not successful in securing the return of your deposit, you can make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Mediation is free and adjudication costs €15 if applying online at www.rtb.ie. The cost of submitting a paper application is €25.