Dear Barry

I have inherited a small house in east Belfast and am thinking of renting it out as a source of additional income as I approach retirement age. This would be my first time letting a property, and I have been told the law requires that I go on a public register of landlords (which I’m not sure I like!) and also that deposits have to be ‘secured’ – and I’m not really sure what that means! Can you tell me a bit more about each of these? I’d really like to know how much of my information would be publicly accessible if I registered as a landlord, and how I would be expected to ‘secure’ tenant deposits? If it proves too much hassle, I might just sell the house instead. Brian
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Dear Brian,

Thanks for your email and I’d like to assure you that neither of these things are anything to worry about. First, I would like to put your mind at ease regarding Landlord Registration – only your name will be publicly visible, plus the searcher would need to know your name in the first place!

I’ll explain: you can search the landlord register either by name or by property. If someone searched the register for the address of your rental property, it would simply tell them it has a valid Landlord Registration Scheme certificate – it wouldn’t give your details at all.

If someone searched for your name, it would simply bring up your name and certificate number, plus details of your agent if you had one. (A good agent can complete this registration process for you; we offered this service to our landlords at no additional cost.)

Such a search would also bring up anyone with the same name as you - here, for example, is what happens when you search for John Smith:

Regarding deposits – there is now Tenancy Deposit Scheme legislation which requires that landlords taking a deposit from a private tenant after 1 April 2013 must protect that deposit with an approved scheme. In Northern Ireland, there are three – The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the Letting Protection Service NI (LPS) and My Deposits NI. TDS and My Deposit NI offer both custodial and insurance protection, whereas LPS only offers custodial.

What are the differences between custodial and insurance protection? In summary:



- Deposit given to scheme administrator (ie one of the organisations above) for safekeeping

- Only returned at end of tenancy or to be transferred to another scheme

- Landlord tells scheme how much to be returned to tenant

- Scheme adjudicates any disputesIf tenant agrees, amount returned to them within 5 days



- Landlord keeps deposit, pays fee to scheme administrator

- Only returned at end of tenancy or to be transferred to another scheme

- Tenant applies to landlord for return of deposit

- Scheme can resolve disputes, but landlord and tenant must try to agree/resolve first

- If tenant agrees with return amount, you must give it to them within 5 days


If you choose to have your property managed by an agent, their services (if you wish) will include all the administration of tenancy deposits. A good agent will have a preferred scheme and type of deposit.

We carried out lengthy, in-depth research before choosing our recommended provider, and have established a close working relationship with them. This is something we strongly recommend you do if you decide to manage the tenancy yourself, and it’s something to keep in mind when selecting a lettings agent.

It will give you peace of mind if you know you/your agent will be kept informed of any changes, or that there is someone reliable at the end of a phone if you/your agent have questions.


If you want to know more about tenant deposits, landlord registration, or have any other questions for Barry, please email with ‘Ask Barry’ in the subject line.