Threshold, the national housing organisation, has called on all political parties to support a new bill – published by the Labour Party – which would see deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector being held by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) for the duration of their tenancy. The Bill was published by the Labour Party today (9.04.09).
Last year, Threshold saw a doubling of complaints from tenants in the private rented sector whose deposits were not returned by their landlord, despite the fact that they felt they did not breach the tenancy agreement.
According to Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold, “This new bill – called the Residential Tenancies Bill, 2009 – provides for a secure alternative, whereby all deposits collected by landlords are lodged with the Private Residential Tenancies Board, and are returned to compliant tenants at the end of their tenancy.
“Deposits sent to the PRTB would be lodged with the National Treasury Management Fund for safe keeping and, all the while, they could help raise funds for the State at a time when they are much needed.
“For people in the private rented sector, their deposit is often treated as their only savings account and, unless they have it returned by their landlord at the end of their tenancy, they are compromised when it comes to securing a new place to live.
“Furthermore, some deposits are covered by the State for those in receipt of Rent Supplement. Where landlords of such deposits fail to return the money at the end of the lease, the State is being cheated.
“Granted, not all deposits should be returned, because a tenant may have damaged the property or failed to pay rent. In these cases – under the proposed piece of legislation – they would not have their deposits returned and the PRTB would furnish the money to the landlord.”
According to Threshold, across Europe – including in the UK – mechanisms exist whereby deposits for rented property are placed with an independent third party.
“Threshold has been seeking such protection for tenants in Ireland and we are pleased to see some political initiative on this issue. At this stage, it’s important that all political parties to get behind the Labour proposal.Indeed, if there was widespread consensus on this proposal, it could easily be dealt with through the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, which is currently going through the Oireachtas.
“Without some protection for deposits, some tenants risk becoming homeless when they find that their deposit will not be returned, therefore leaving them without any money to secure a new rented property. The issue of unreturned deposits is not one for political football, and Threshold hopes there can be
consensus and action within the coming weeks. In the UK, political consensus was easily reached in this issue, and I cannot see why the same could not happen here,” added Ms Hayden.