The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 regulates the tenant-landlord relationship in the private rented residential sector. Under section 12 (1)(d) of the Act a landlord is obliged to promptly refund deposits unless, and in accordance with the provisions of the Act, rent or other charges or taxes are owing or there is damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear.
My Department conducted a review of the Act in 2009 and the incorrect retention of deposits by landlords was identified in the review process as one of a range of issues that merited specific attention. In July 2011 the Government approved the drafting of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill 2011 and I anticipate its publication in the coming days. The Programme for Government 2011 commits to the introduction of a deposit protection scheme and it is important that action in this regard is taken in the context of a strong evidence base. I have therefore asked the PRTB to commission analysis-based research on such a scheme and to report back to me with recommendations. I understand that the PRTB has recently awarded the tender for this research and I expect that the Board will revert to me with detailed research and recommendations in Autumn 2012.
The Act provides for the enforcement of determination orders, where such have not been complied with, by application to the Circuit Court by either a party to the determination order or by the Board itself. Given the discretionary nature of this power, the Board exercises it in the context of the circumstances pertaining to each case.