The housing charity Threshold has called for the establishment of a deposit protection scheme for tenants in Ireland.

Threshold dealt with over 3,000 cases last year where landlords kept deposits worth up to €2 million.

The charity said the issue will only be resolved when deposits are no longer kept directly by the landlord, but by an independent third party.

Threshold launched its Annual Report for 2011 today, showing that over 23,000 people contacted the charity for help last year.

It said most landlords’ claims are not legitmate, and pointed to the fact that 80% of cases that go to the Private Residential Tenancies Board result in some or all of the money being paid to tenants.

Threshold also warned that tenants are being caught in the crossfire between landlords and financial institutions in disputes over mortage arrears.

It said there is a "worrying new phenomenan" where banks are appointing rent receivers to bypass landlords and collect rent directly from tenants.

In an increasing number of cases, tenants have been threatened with eviction by both the landlord and the rent receiver if they do not hand over the money to them, putting the tenant in an impossible position.