When you sign for a property, most landlords ask for a deposit, either equivalent to one month’s rent, or a fixed fee of between £200 and £600. Having to hand over a big lump of money before you’ve even moved in might seem scary, but the deposit remains your money and – provided you are a responsible tenant – should be released back to you at the end of your tenancy.
The deposit can be used by the landlord to cover any damage to the property and its contents at the end of your tenancy, or to cover any unpaid rent or bills for which they could become liable. The landlord cannot benefit financially from your deposit, for example by using it to buy a new oven which will upgrade the property. You must also be kept in the loop, and be allowed to negotiate with your landlord, if they wish to deduct money from the deposit.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord must protect your deposit. They should provide you with documents notifying you of the deposit protection scheme within 30 days of you paying the money. Deposit protection schemes guarantee that your money is protected during any disputes between you and your landlord.
Make sure you get a detailed inventory early on and check that you agree with the contents and condition of the property. If you wish to add or update anything, particularly any previously damaged areas, take time-stamped photographs and send them to your landlord, requesting they be added to the inventory. You can question and negotiate any part of the inventory that you don’t think is accurately representing the property in the state it is in when you move in. For example, some landlords may try to use the same inventory every year, meaning its contents could therefore include outdated information/photos. During your tenancy be sure to report any broken items or required repairs to your landlord, so that you won’t be unexpectedly charged for these at the end.
If you break something and it is definitely your fault, consider getting a quote for its repair and offering to pay that amount of money to your landlord. This might work out less than what your landlord would suggest and also shows goodwill.
Essentially, you need to make sure the property is in the same condition it was at the start of the tenancy, with some allowance for wear and tear. Here’s a quick checklist:
You can make a claim against your landlord if your deposit has not been protected within 30 days of you paying it. You can also make a claim if you haven’t received your deposit back or received any communications regarding deductions after your tenancy ends.
After you have left the property, your landlord has a period of at least 10 days (as outlined in your Tenancy Agreement) to gather any information or documents they need before they must communicate to you about your deposit.
You can find NUS’ Deposit Recovery Pack here, which has detailed information on when and how to make a claim against your landlord.
You can also download this pack from The Tenants’ Voice, which has information about getting your deposit back, including sample letters to your landlord.
The Advice Service can assist you with any questions about your deposit, as well as with any other issues you may be experiencing. Please contact us via our enquiries form here. Our service is confidential and independent.
Page last reviewed: 25/10/2018