Belfast Telegraph

Time to stop rogue landlords ripping off tenants

By Lindy McDowell

You know the way nobody has ever actually met the Yeti? Other phenomena we've seen little hard proof of over the years ...

Have you ever known anybody who has had their entire deposit on a rental property returned by the landlord?

I haven't.

And although there are no official figures to guide us as to how widespread the practice of holding on to the deposit is, on anecdotal evidence alone I suspect we're talking about a disturbingly high percentage.

Fair play, then, to UUP MLA Michael Copeland who has raised the matter with the Department for Social Development and who is arguing that we need a system like the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that operates in Scotland.

Under this system an independent third party adjudicates on whether there is damage to the property that should be paid for from the deposit.

Landlords holding on to this money for "cleaning" or "redecorating" are currently par for the course.

I've heard of landlords who've refused to give back £200 because they need to repaint a wall. Or get the cooker cleaned.

Things that you'd expect to come under the label wear-and-tear are deducted from the pot. And outside of hiring expensive lawyers, there isn't a whole lot a tenant can do about it. I've even heard of tenants blamed for marks on the carpets and walls that were there before they moved in.

There's an assumption that this is something which mainly affects student rentals. But it is much more widespread. The rental housing market is flourishing as never before. Far too many people are being ripped off.

Extortionate landlords are getting the arm in.

And right now there's not a whole lot to stop them.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph