markova21
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Asking for my son. He has just enquired about a room to rent in Belfast for September. They said they want a month's rent up front for their deposit. That's fine. My son asked if he payed his deposit now, would the room be secure for him come September, and that it wouldn't mean he would be expected to start paying rent as from now? They said, no, he can start paying rent in September. That's fine. Then he asked them if, because of the Covid-19 , if the university doesn't go ahead in September would he get his deposit back? They said no. Is this right? Is this normal or legal? Surely a deposit is a deposit and you are entitled to it back if something beyond your control happens which means you cannot take up that tenancy? What do people think? Thanks.
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DiddyDec
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Is he going to be a lodger living with his landlord?
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markova21
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
Is he going to be a lodger living with his landlord?
No. It's a 5 bedroom house, suitable for students, people who work at the nearby hospital, etc.
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NonIndigenous
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(Original post by markova21)
Asking for my son. He has just enquired about a room to rent in Belfast for September. They said they want a month's rent up front for their deposit. That's fine. My son asked if he payed his deposit now, would the room be secure for him come September, and that it wouldn't mean he would be expected to start paying rent as from now? They said, no, he can start paying rent in September. That's fine. Then he asked them if, because of the Covid-19 , if the university doesn't go ahead in September would he get his deposit back? They said no. Is this right? Is this normal or legal? Surely a deposit is a deposit and you are entitled to it back if something beyond your control happens which means you cannot take up that tenancy? What do people think? Thanks.
Depends on the contract terms. I never ran into issues with my deposit, so never delved into the nitty-gritty. Private landlords normally use deposits to cover damages or arrears. I've not heard of deposits being used in this context to 'place hold' a space this way.

Also, if it is under an 'Assured Tenancy Agreement' (and it should be), then the landlord must use a 'deposit protection scheme'. It's the law. That way, it also gives you more leverage to make sure that the deposit is not being abused by the landlord.

I get the impression from just the poor way this sounds like it is organised... that there is no deposit protection scheme?
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londonmyst
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Yes, that is the normal arrangement when renting in Belfast.
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markova21
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
Depends on the contract terms. I never ran into issues with my deposit, so never delved into the nitty-gritty. Private landlords normally use deposits to cover damages or arrears. I've not heard of deposits being used in this context to 'place hold' a space this way.

Also, if it is under an 'Assured Tenancy Agreement' (and it should be), then the landlord must use a 'deposit protection scheme'. It's the law. That way, it also gives you more leverage to make sure that the deposit is not being abused by the landlord.

I get the impression from just the poor way this sounds like it is organised... that there is no deposit protection scheme?
Oh. That doesn't sound too good. I know he was initially put off them because it says rent is either £300 or £330 pm + fees. When you read it it says you also have to pay an additional £70 pm for cleaning the communal area, broadband etc. He and I were thinking, well why not just say the rent is either £370 or £400 a month then? I told him I would come on here and ask people's advice.
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NonIndigenous
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Personally, I wouldn't pay just yet. There is still plenty of time until September, enough for the virus situation to stabilise hopefully and people to know how to plan ahead better. In that case, if the quarantines are lifted, then this doesn't matter anyway. I've had no trouble finding places to rent even just 1 month before, although those were not usually in 'student' towns.
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markova21
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(Original post by londonmyst)
Yes, that is the normal arrangement when renting in Belfast.
Is it really? I had no idea. Is it different to other places then? Do you know why?
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DiddyDec
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Yes, as it is a holding deposit it can be withheld by the landlord should you not go ahead with the tenancy.
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NonIndigenous
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(Original post by markova21)
Oh. That doesn't sound too good. I know he was initially put off them because it says rent is either £300 or £330 pm + fees. When you read it it says you also have to pay an additional £70 pm for cleaning the communal area, broadband etc. He and I were thinking, well why not just say the rent is either £370 or £400 a month then? I told him I would come on here and ask people's advice.
Ah, hidden charges.

Make sure in the contract that these "fees" are fixed. Normally the contract fixed the rent per month, for a period like 12 months.

I don't think the same applies to "fees". Plus also, a house share of several people where "fees" are not included or the bills are split... could cause a lot of agrow if you have 1 or 2 occupants acting irresponsibly, and the landlord decided just charge everyone living there for it.

I mean... this doesn't normally happen anyway with adults. But students... possibly. Very often students don't know how to behave sensibly. It makes the landlord angry, then he takes it out on everyone living there, for example.
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markova21
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
Ah, hidden charges.

Make sure in the contract that these "fees" are fixed. Normally the contract fixed the rent per month, for a period like 12 months.

I don't think the same applies to "fees". Plus also, a house share of several people where "fees" are not included or the bills are split... could cause a lot of agrow if you have 1 or 2 occupants acting irresponsibly, and the landlord decided just charge everyone living there for it.

I mean... this doesn't normally happen anyway with adults. But students... possibly. Very often students don't know how to behave sensibly. It makes the landlord angry, then he takes it out on everyone living there, for example.
Oh dear.
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londonmyst
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(Original post by markova21)
Is it really? I had no idea. Is it different to other places then? Do you know why?
Belfast landlords like to include holding deposits.
The insurance companies operating there frequently rely upon the 'act of god' clause to nullify claims or negotiate a substantially lower payout.
Holdings deposits are also popular in London and amongst some other landlords catering exclusively to students.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
Ah, hidden charges.

Make sure in the contract that these "fees" are fixed. Normally the contract fixed the rent per month, for a period like 12 months.

I don't think the same applies to "fees". Plus also, a house share of several people where "fees" are not included or the bills are split... could cause a lot of agrow if you have 1 or 2 occupants acting irresponsibly, and the landlord decided just charge everyone living there for it.

I mean... this doesn't normally happen anyway with adults. But students... possibly. Very often students don't know how to behave sensibly. It makes the landlord angry, then he takes it out on everyone living there, for example.
Fees are pretty much all illegal now.
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NonIndigenous
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
Fees are pretty much all illegal now.
Ah, if that's so... then I pretty much don't know what I'm talking about I guess.

As of when, are they 'illegal'? Last time I delved into the details was 2 years ago.
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markova21
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I just had to Google what "Holding Deposits" means. Neither me nor my son know anything about student rentals, or private renting if you are a student.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
Ah, if that's so... then I pretty much don't know what I'm talking about I guess.

As of when, are they 'illegal'? Last time I delved into the details was 2 years ago.
In 2019 they were made illegal because so many agents were taking the piss charging new rents into the thousands for standard documents that cost less than 50p to print out.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by markova21)
I just had to Google what "Holding Deposits" means. Neither me nor my son know anything about student rentals, or private renting if you are a student.
I used this. Northern Ireland is not my strong suit as it differs slightly from English law.

https://www.housingadviceni.org/advi...s/letting-fees
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markova21
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On the Property Pal website, for rentals in Belfast, a very large percentage of them say "Plus fees".
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NonIndigenous
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
In 2019 they were made illegal because so many agents were taking the piss charging new rents into the thousands for standard documents that cost less than 50p to print out.
Not long ago then. That's reassuring. I'm usually very diligent in my research, so was worried I may have overlooked something this big the last time I signed an AST in 2018.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by markova21)
On the Property Pal website, for rentals in Belfast, a very large percentage of them say "Plus fees".
It seems NI has some pretty dodgy laws on fees.

https://www.propertypal.com/letting-...fees/ST0410217
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