Threshold, the national housing organisation, has said the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – which is currently going through the Oireachtas – presents an ideal opportunity to introduce a deposit protection scheme for those living in private rented accommodation.
Commenting today (30.04.09), Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold, said: “The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is going through the Oireachtas next week. With slight amendments, it could provide for a deposit protection scheme aimed at minimising disputes between landlords and tenants.
“Threshold would like to see a system in place, whereby deposits collected by landlords would be lodged with the Private Residential Tenancies Board and returned to compliant tenants at the end of their tenancy. Such systems already operate successfully in England, Wales, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
“These systems are not anti-landlord and are not intended to discriminate against landlords in any way. Where tenants are in arrears or have damaged a property, landlords are obviously perfectly entitled to retain some or all of their deposits.
“However, at present, the vast majority of disputes being referred to the PRTB relate to the retention of deposits and – in most cases – the PRTB has been ruling in the tenants’ favour. Introducing a deposit protection scheme now would minimise such disputes and lead to greater efficiencies all round.”
Last year, Threshold saw a doubling of complaints from tenants in the private rented sector whose deposits were not returned by their landlords despite the fact that they felt they had not breached their tenancy agreements.
Ms. Hayden said it was important that the proposed deposit protection scheme was introduced in the immediate future.
“We know the Minister for Housing has proposed a review of the Residential Tenancies Act, but it is difficult to see how this could be completed in less than two years,” she said. “It would be a huge pity if the opportunity presented by the enactment of the Housing Bill next week was missed. The issue of unreturned deposits is not one for political football; it deserves all-party support, and Threshold hopes to see consensus and action in this regard within the coming week.”