Threshold got almost 200 calls from Galway in 2020 about landlords withholding deposits

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Almost 200 people in Galway called the housing charity Threshold about being unable to get their rental deposits back last year.

Galway City and County accounted for 14 percent of all queries about deposit retention made to Threshold in 2020, with a total of 196 queries made from here.

Western Regional Services Manager at Threshold, Karina Timothy said “The unlawful retention of deposits – often equivalent to two months’ rent – can make the difference between someone being able to secure a new tenancy, or becoming homeless.”

She added that they estimate private landlords in Ireland are holding at least €250,000,000 in deposits, most of which are from people of modest or middle incomes.

Threshold has called on the government to deliver on a long standing promise to establish a rental deposit scheme to protect renters from this problem.

Such a scheme was first outlined in the 2011 Programme for Government. Relevant legislation was passed in 2015 by the then Minister for Housing to enable the Residential Tenancies Board to launch the scheme; however, the scheme was never enacted.

The charity has suggested that under such a deposit protection scheme, deposits could be held by a body such as the Residential Tenancies Board, rather than by the landlord.

The appeal for this scheme to be enacted comes as the charity states that queries from tenants in relation to deposit retention increased by 43% between 2019 and 2020.

Threshold’s data shows that single-person households are disproportionately impacted by deposit retention issues.

Last year single person households accounted for 53% of of contacts made with the charity, but made up 63% of all deposit retention queries.

CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty said: “During the first week of March in 2011, the then incoming government committed to introducing a deposit protection scheme as a matter of priority, yet ten years on it still hasn’t happened.”

“In 2020 Threshold saw a 43% increase in the number of queries from tenants relating to deposit retention nationally. Many of these come from tenants whose deposits have been unjustly retained.”

“Allowing an independent third party such as the RTB to hold deposits would ensure that many of these disputes are resolved easily.”

“Ultimately a system must be put in place to better protect private rental deposits. We are calling on the Minister for Housing to honour the promise made ten years ago in the 2011 Programme for Government.”