Contracts & Deposits

Here are some top tips to make sure your tenancy runs smoothly.

Tenancy Agreements

  • Make sure you read your contract thoroughly and that you know what you and your landlord’s responsibilities are before you sign and commit yourself
  • Make sure you keep a copy for your records. If you need advice, you must bring it with you to your Adviser
  • Even if you are dealing with a letting agent, ensure you have the landlord's (the owner of the property) full name, address and contact number - IT'S THE LAW! 
  • If there’s anything that is troubling you about your contract or if you have any questions at all, get in touch directly with your landlord or agent

Landlord Registration

  • Before you sign, you must check that your landlord is registered - this has been the law from 25 Feb 2014
  • Tenants and advisers can check the register to see if a landlord has registered. It's possible to search by landlord name or by property address. If your landlord is not registered, think seriously before accepting the property and seek further advice from the Landlord Registration Scheme advice line on 0300 200 7821. They should be reported to your Local Council which has the power to impose a fine.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes

The Law states that deposits paid on or after 1 April, 2013 by tenants in the private rented sector must be protected by your landlord in a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

These Schemes make sure that your deposit is safe so you can get it back when you move out (as long as you have looked after the property and paid your rent).

Make sure that your landlord has secured your deposit with one of these Schemes within 14 days of paying your money. By 28 days you also should have been provided with specific details (called your ‘Prescribed Information’). If you are not sure whether your landlord has secured your deposit we strongly advise you to write to them using the sample letter below:

Download Protecting Deposit Sample Letter

If your landlord doesn’t reply or hasn’t secured your deposit within 28 days you should report them to the Environmental Health Officer at your local council*, which has the power to fine them up to three times the amount of the deposit or if prosecuted in court, up to £20,000.

Unfortunately, as this is a new piece of legislation, a loophole has been identified. The reason we strongly advise every student to check within the first 28 days that your deposit has been properly protected is that if you don’t check and report any non-protection to your local Council, before six months of your tenancy has passed, the Council does not have any power to fine your landlord. Students who have waited until their tenancy has ended, later discovered they weren’t protected and subsequently lost their deposit.  We don’t want this to happen to you and we plan to lobby local Government to change this.

It’s your money – don’t lose it! Please make sure you follow our above advice to make sure your deposit is protected! 

Further info can be found on NI Direct

Disputes over deposits should be addressed directly to the Dispute Resolution Service in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that your deposit has been secured in. The Department for Communities has appointed three scheme administrators to operate the scheme. They are:

You can also visit Housing Advice NI for advice from Housing Rights on private sector rental.

Please bear in mind - the Students’ Union generally can't become involved in individual disputes.

*If you live in Belfast, the Belfast City Council’s Environmental Health Department can be contacted on: 028 9032 0202.

If you are having problems with your landlord find out how the council can help.


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