The Government has unveiled a set of new rules, to be introduced in the coming months, under which deposits paid on rented accommodation will be held “in escrow” by an independent third party, in an effort to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, who they believe may be retaining deposits illegally.
Jan O’Sullivan, junior minister for housing and planning, revealed the plan, which aims to put a stop to what is said to be a growing number of landlords who are retaining deposits at the end of tenancies, for less than genuine reasons.
Threshold, Ireland’s leading housing charity, advised that the issue of deposit return was its biggest source of complaints this year, bar none, citing some 20,000 disgruntled tenants who had contacted them to claim the illegal retention of money by their landlords.
According to the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), a landlord must return a deposit promptly, as long as; “there is no rent owing in respect of the tenancy and there is no damage to the dwelling beyond normal wear and tear at the end of the tenancy”
Threshold’s annual report also revealed that more than 1,600 people reported poor standards in rental accommodation, with the most common problems including broken or ineffective heating systems and poor ventilation.
The charity claimed that, in some cases, landlords have refused to carry out repairs, often blaming the onset of the recession. A survey by Threshold also found that nearly 40 per cent of local authorities were unaware they were even responsible for inspecting rental properties.
The new Government initiative to improve tenants’ rights would see Ireland adopt an international standard, where deposits are held by an independent third party, instead of landlords, as is currently the norm here.