Before you assume occupancy of a property, you will have to supply your landlord with a security deposit, which is often equivalent to one months' rent plus £100 or plus £200 where permission to keep a pet has been granted.
What Happens Next?
Once your landlord/agent has received your deposit they must protect it with a government-based rental deposit scheme.
They then have 30 days to tell you:
- The address of the rented property;
- How much deposit you’ve paid;
- How the deposit is protected;
- The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service;
- Their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details;
- The name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit;
- Why they would keep some or all of the deposit;
- How to apply to get the deposit back;
- What to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy;
- What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit.
Making sure you get your deposit back
Deposits will vary depending on the size of the property, location etc., but more often or not they will cost a substantial amount of money. Get back the full amount by making sure you:
Meet the terms of your tenancy agreements.
Pay your rent and bills.
Maintain the property to a good standard, avoiding any form of damage.
If one isn't provided for you, make an inventory at the start of your tenancy and take photographs showing the state of the property – these will help with any disputes at the end of your tenancy.
Pay your last month’s rent, as some tenants withhold it in case the landlord refuses to return the deposit. You are legally liable to pay rent so you’d risk being taken to court.
Once you and your landlord have agreed how much you’ll get back, your deposit must be returned to you within 10 working days.
What if an agreement cannot be reached?
On some occasions, disputes may occur between a landlord and a tenant over certain responsibilities.
For example, an area of the property may be tarnished with damp or there may be some wear and tear. To see the extent of a landlord’s responsibilities, visit our Advice About Landlords Duty of Care page.
If a dispute does occur, then your tenancy deposit scheme will offer a dispute resolution service completely free of charge. However, your landlord has to agree to use it.
When to seek legal advice
If your landlord hasn’t returned your deposit within 10 working days of the end of your tenancy, without substantial reason of doing so, then the best course of action would be to write them a polite letter threatening court action.
That way, they will know you are serious about getting your money back. The last thing they will want is a court case on their hands; in fact it will be a hindrance for both parties, so the letter will be a push in the right direction of them returning your money.
However, if they still refuse to return your money, then your best avenue of pursuit would be to find a housing solicitor who can guide you through the legal process of getting a court to order the return of your deposit. You can use our Links page to find a housing adviser.
We want to make the renting process as convenient for you as possible. That’s why we accept payment through a variety of methods, including:
Cheque (only for payment of the initial holding deposit)
Bank Transfer/Standing Order