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Threshold

Threshold calls for protection scheme amid rise in landlords withholding deposits

The proposed scheme would see deposits lodged with an independent third party rather than the landlord.

THRESHOLD HAS CALLED on the Government to institute a scheme that would protect tenants who have issues getting their rental deposits back from landlords.

The housing charity received almost 200 requests for assistance in retrieving deposits in the second quarter of this year. 

According to a statement released today, Threshold’s latest figures “show an increase in the number of renters seeking support regarding the retention of their rental deposit”.

The proposed scheme would see deposits lodged with an independent third party rather than the landlord.

“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,” the charity’s statement said. 

“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.” 

Threshold’s figures show that 195 households requested assistance with recovering deposits after their landlords had withheld them. This is a rise from 172 such requests from the same period last year. 

Since January Threshold has been contacted by 338 household looking for help with the same issue. Last year’s total was 701. 

“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,” said Threshold’s CEO John-Mark McCafferty. 

McCafferty said that the unlawful retention of a deposit can have a “domino effect” on people’s fortunes when moving out and looking for a new home, with some forced to move back to their family homes in order to save up for 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.”

On top of issues with retrieving deposits, Threshold has also seen a marked increase in the number of cases in which people seek their help sue to tenancy termination. 

“Nearly 50% of queries from renters concerned tenancy termination,” the statement said, representing a rise of 23% compared to the first quarter of this year. 

“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.”

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