TENANTS who find themselves waiting long periods to get their deposit back will be protected under new regulations.
The rules, introduced by Justice Minister Helen Mc- Entee, require that the deposit be returned according to the timeframe in the letter of engagement, or if that is not specified, then no later than 10 working days after the property or land is vacated.
If minimum standards are not met, auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management companies could face sanctions.
These include a monetary penalty or the suspension or revocation of a licence by the authority.
The regulations, drawn up by the Property Services Regu- latory Authority, set out a range of minimum standards to be observed in the provision of property services to clients.
"Our goal is to ensure continued delivery by property services providers of a professional and high standard of service to their clients, and equally that clients are informed of the standards which they can expect when they engage a property services provider," Ms McEntee said.
The Property Service (Regu- lation) Act sets out the obligations of auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management com- panies in the provision of services aimed at ensuring protection for their clients.
Businesses that provide property services and their employees must be licensed.
These new regulations require that "where a licensee holds a security deposit in rela- tion to the letting of land or property, which is due to be paid to a client or returned to a tenant, the licensee shall make the payment to the client or tenant as provided for in the letter of engagement or, if not specified, not later than 10 working days after the day the tenant vacates the property."
Where a licensee holds a booking deposit in respect of the sale of land or property, which is due to be paid to the client or refunded to another person, "the licensee shall make such payment or refund not later than 10 working days after rec- eipt of written instructions from the client or after the day on which the deposit is due to be refunded".
A licensee who receives a payment from a tenant on behalf of a client must transfer the payment to the client within the timeframe agreed in the letter of engagement or, if not specified, not later than 30 days after receipt of the payment.