Threshold, the national housing organisation, has welcomed the commitment in the Programme for Government to establish a tenancy deposit protection scheme as a measure to end disputes concerning the return of deposits to tenants in the private rented sector.
According to the Threshold’s Chairperson, Aideen Hayden, the scheme would help bring an end to one of the most frequent dispute issues within the private rented sector. “Threshold has – for some time – called for the establishment of a deposit protection scheme. The sheer volume of cases concerning unreturned deposits makes it one of the most prolific problems that we deal with each year. This commitment within the Programme for Government makes absolute sense and must be welcomed.”
Unreturned deposits account for 25 per cent of Threshold’s case-load and are the biggest source of dispute in cases before the Private Residential Tenancies Board. Deposits – normally in the region of €1,000 – are paid over to the landlord at the start of a tenancy and are held until the end of the tenancy agreement, when the deposit supposed to be returned to compliant tenants.
“The proposed scheme could take a number of forms, but we would like to see a system put 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. Where tenants are in arrears or have damaged a property, landlords are obviously legally entitled to retain some or all of their deposits.
“Apart from protecting tenants and reducing disputes, the scheme could be self-financing through income from the interest on the deposits,” said Ms. Hayden.
Threshold also welcomed the commitment in the Programme for Government to assist people in mortgage arrears, as well as the commitment to end long-term homelessness. “In particular, the Programme recognises that measures to assist people in mortgage distress have been inadequate to date and that more robust and sustainable measures will be needed. To this end, we will be urging the incoming Government to examine our proposals for equity scheme and debt forgiveness for those who are simply not in a position to cover their repayments,” said Ms Hayden.
Threshold was founded in 1978 and is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to secure a right to housing, particularly for households experiencing the problems of poverty and exclusion. The organisation operates offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway which provide advice and representation to almost 22,000 people.