Rising number of renters facing difficulty with deposit retention

Press Releases
  • Housing charity prevents almost 900 households from entering homelessness in Q2 2023
  • Nearly 50% of queries from renters concerned tenancy termination, up from 37% in Q1 2023
  • Threshold calls on the Government to establish a Deposit Protection Scheme as nearly 200 renters seek support on deposit retention issues in Q2 2023

Latest figures from the national housing charity Threshold show an increase in the number of renters seeking support regarding the retention of their rental deposit, year to date. This comes as the housing charity launches a new campaign calling on the establishment of a Deposit Protection Scheme to protect renters from having their rental deposit unfairly retained by landlords.

According to their Q2 2023 Impact Report, Threshold prevented 880 households from entering homelessness in the second quarter of this year, including 1,204 adults and 845 children. 2,159 new clients who contacted Threshold were at risk of homelessness. The majority of those were at risk of homelessness as a result of their landlord’s notice to sell the property.

A total of 8,685 households received support from the charity on wider tenancy issues. Nearly 50% of queries received from private renters concerned tenancy termination, an increase from 37% in the first quarter of the year. Threshold advisors answered over 11,000 phone calls and responded to almost 2,000 webchats from private renters facing challenges in their tenancy.

Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty commented on the report, stating:

“We are continuing to see a high volume of private renters seeking support across a range of issues, but concerns surrounding termination of tenancies remain the key challenge facing tenants. We saw a slight reduction in the number of households that were prevented from entering homelessness this quarter compared to the first quarter of this year. This is a result of client cases lasting for a longer time period due to their complexity, meaning that we are not closing as many cases as was previously seen.”

Deposit Protection Scheme

Threshold is launching a public campaign on a Deposit Protection Scheme and is asking renters to share their experience of when a landlord unfairly retained their deposit. A Deposit Protection Scheme involves a deposit being lodged with an independent third-party resulting in a fairer outcome in relation to deposits at the end of tenancies.

In Q2 2023, 195 households looked for help from Threshold when their landlord failed to return their deposit. This compares to 172 households seeking support on deposit retention issues in the same quarter in 2022.

Between January and June of this year alone, a total of 338 households have sought support with this issue. In 2022, a total of 701 households contacted Threshold for advice and support on having their deposit returned.

Threshold proposes the establishment of a custodial model, where a landlord is required to lodge a deposit with a registered tenancy deposit scheme. At the end of the tenancy, the tenant or landlord can apply to the scheme for the deposit to be returned. If both the tenant and landlord agree, the deposit is returned in part or in full. If there is a disagreement, mediation is held to resolve the matter, with the RTB becoming involved if disagreement persists.

John-Mark stated: “The unlawful retention of a deposit can have a domino effect – we have seen tenants, whose landlords have retained their deposit, go on to face challenges in moving to a new home, with some forced to return to the family home to save for a new deposit or use alternative finances to fund a new deposit.

“We recognise that the Government legislated for this scheme in 2015, however the scheme was never established. There are renters all over the country who cannot afford to lose their deposits, nor is it right that this money be taken from them. While renters can challenge the deposit being unfairly retained and take the matter to the RTB, this can be a lengthy and difficult process. A Deposit Protection Scheme is very much needed to ensure a quick and fair return of deposits to a tenant once they finish their tenancy.”

Katarzyna’s Experience

Katarzyna and her family were living in their home for over 11 years when her landlord served them with a notice of termination citing a wish to substantially refurbish the property. Katarzyna found a new home after three months of searching and informed her landlord that her family would be leaving their tenancy before the termination date to move into their new home.

However, the landlord wanted to keep all of Katarzyna’s deposit as she was not staying for the full notice period. Katarzyna became worried about losing her €900 deposit but could not give up the opportunity of a new home for her family.

Facing this dilemma, she contacted Threshold for advice. Her advisor set out her rights to leave the tenancy prior to the termination date and informed her that the landlord could not withhold her deposit on this basis. Katarzyna discussed this with her landlord, who consulted a solicitor and was advised to return the deposit. Katarzyna received her deposit in full and is now living in her new home with her family.

Katarzyna’s case highlights the need for a Deposit Protection Scheme to be established. Threshold is calling on renters to share their experiences of when their deposit was unfairly kept by their landlord, by detailing their experience here. This is vital for demonstrating the scale of the issue to Government and the need for the scheme. 

Threshold’s free helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am- 9pm at 1800 454 454, with webchat at www.threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.

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