Insurance scheme - information for landlords

Since 1 April 2013, landlords in Northern Ireland must protect their new tenants' deposits under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Landlord must use an approved scheme. If a landlord uses an insurance scheme, the landlord holds the deposit and pays a deposit protection fee to the scheme administrator.

Paying a deposit protection fee to an insurance scheme

To protect your tenant's deposit using an insurance scheme, you can pay your  fee:

  • online
  • by telephone using a debit or credit card
  • by cheque
  • by bank transfer

Landlords and their letting agents should ask the scheme administrator about making payments. If you need to protect many deposits, ask the scheme administrator if they have bulk transfer facilities.

The scheme administrator can give advice about compatible IT systems and any adaptations you'll need.

Transferring a deposit between schemes

A landlord can apply to transfer deposit protection from one scheme to another. 

Scheme administrators must:

  • tell the tenant their landlord transferred deposit protection to a different scheme administrator
  • confirm to the landlord and tenant the deposit is protected

If  a landlord wants to transfer protection of the deposit to a custodial scheme, the landlord must lodge the deposit with the new scheme immediately.

When an insurance scheme can return a deposit

You cannot claim on a deposit during a tenancy. The scheme administrator only returns a deposit:

  • at the end of a tenancy
  • if you or your letting agent want to move the deposit protection to another scheme

Returning a tenant's deposit

If you use an insurance scheme to protect the deposit, the tenant should apply to you for the deposit. They can only do this at the end of their tenancy. When there is no disagreement about the amount, you must give them the deposit within five working days.

lf you don’t return it within this timescale, the tenant  should tell the scheme administrator. With the tenant’s consent, the scheme administrator will start dispute resolution action.

Landlord’s deposit protection fee

The insurance scheme uses the landlord's fee to pay the scheme's running costs.

Tenancy deposit scheme administrators

There are three approved scheme administrators in Northern Ireland:

Monitoring the schemes

The Department for Communities monitors the approved schemes.

The scheme administrators report:

  • delivery of their services
  • the financial position of their scheme by providing independently audited accounts, statements on income and scheme costs 

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