€30 million state spend on rent deposit shows need for protection scheme

The large amount of State money spent in recent years on rental deposits and the inability to get any of it back shows the need for a rental deposit scheme operated through the Private Rental Tenancies Board (PRTB).

The information released to me shows that in 2008 alone, over €7 million was spent on exceptional needs payments for rent deposits, often for those seeking rent allowance, and that no procedures are in place for  recovery of the deposit. Since 2006, over €30 million has been released for rental deposits under exceptional needs payments. It is understandable that the Department should provide this assistance to allow people access housing but we need a mechanism to recover it should they move on to other social housing or private accommodation.

I have previously highlighted the need for a deposit protection scheme to protect the lump sums paid by renters to private landlords. As this case shows it could save the taxpayer significant sums; and it would also protect thousands of students, and the growing number of apartment renters, who regularly have their deposits illegally retained.

The recent news that Irish banks are appointing rent receivers to the properties of buy-to-let investors in serious arrears also shows the need for a deposit protection scheme. Tenants are highly unlikely to start paying their monthly rent to a bank when their landlord may have in their possession a deposit of over €1,000.

I welcome the work done by my colleague, Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan on the Programme for Government commitment to introduce a deposit protection scheme and I look forward to the PRTB commissioned report in the autumn investigating its potential. It is long overdue.