A letting agent in Northern Ireland has been fined £15,000 for failing to protect tenant deposits in five different cases all heard this week at a Magistrate’s Court.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) Northern Ireland says the agent had been served fixed penalty notices for all five breaches of the law, each one three times the original deposit and totalling £9,435. But, when these were not paid by the agent enforcement action was then taken through the courts.
The Magistrate then increased the fines to £15,000 while the agent will also now have to return the deposits to the five tenants, which totalled £3,145 and pay costs of £1,244.
“These are severe penalties and show that local authorities are taking the matter of unprotected deposits seriously,” says Ben Beadle, Managing Director of TDS Northern Ireland.
“Under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations, where a fixed penalty notice has not been paid, fines can be issued by a court of up to £20,000 and it is clear to see that the Court was not afraid to exercise its powers.
“The law requires that landlords, or their agent, protect a deposit with a government approved tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days of its receipt, and must issue Prescribed Information informing the tenant about the scheme within 28 days.”
There are three providers of tenancy deposit protection sanctioned by the Northern Ireland government including TDS Northern Ireland, My Deposits Northern Ireland and Letting Protection Service Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland it has been require by law since 2013 for landlords and agents to lodge tenants’ deposits in one of these schemes within 14 days of receipt, which is more stringent than the 30 days allowed in England and Wales.