Belfast Telegraph

Let's bring bad tenants and landlords to account

By Lindy McDowell

Last week in this column I let rip at landlords who hold on to tenants' deposits even though, in many cases I've heard about, there has been no damage to the rental property.

The issue has been raised in Stormont by UUP man Michael Copeland who wants to see a scheme similar to that in Scotland where an independent third party holds the deposit.

Since the piece appeared I've heard several more stories about landlord greed. But I also accept that there are good landlords - and some vile tenants.

Among those who contacted me after the piece appeared was one landlord who said she took great exception to what I had written.

She says (and I believe her) that she has had many tenants who were given back their deposits in full and in cases where sums had been deducted this was legitimate. It was to pay for work to put right damage that had been done to the properties.

She talks about the filth some tenants have left behind (again I believe her) and asks what happens when the damage done exceeds the deposit or the tenant leaves behind unpaid utility bills.

These are all fair, valid points. As I say I totally accept that there are good landlords too.

But I still believe that a well-run third party deposit scheme would be a good thing - not least in terms of cracking down hard on those landlords who give their peers such a poor reputation.

A shake-up of the current system should also involve a way of making sure that the bad tenants are held to account for damage caused and bills unpaid.

Surely that's possible - and in the best interests of all parties?

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