If you rent on an assured shorthold tenancy, your deposit must be held in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme.
The landlord will retain your deposit but they must pay a protection fee to protect this deposit. Your landlord (or letting agent) is responsible for returning your deposit at the end of your tenancy.
How does it work?
- You pay your deposit to your landlord or letting agent.
- Your landlord or letting agent has 30 days to register your deposit with a government-backed scheme.
- The elected scheme should send you confirmation and relevant account details.
- When you move out, you and your landlord need to agree how much deposit will be repaid.
- If you can't reach an agreement, you will need to notify the scheme holders for assistance.
- Once you reach an agreement, your landlord or agent will pay you the agreed amount.
Within England and Wales, there are 3 schemes that are authorised by the government:
- Deposit Protection Service
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
These government-backed schemes are in place to ensure that as a tenant, you will get your deposit back if you:
- meet the terms of the tenancy agreement
- don't damage the property
- pay the rent and bills
Your landlord (or agent) must put your deposit into the chosen protection scheme within 30 days of receiving this. If your landlord does not register your deposit with a government back scheme, any attempts from your landlord to serve a section 21 notice may be invalid.
At the end of the tenancy, any deductions that the landlord wished to make from the deposit need to be made clear and you must both agree on the final amount to be returned. This amount needs to be returned to you within 10 days of agreeing how much you'll get back.
As a tenant, you should expect to get the full deposit back unless your necessary deductions are agreed. If you can’t agree the deductions, then all the deposit schemes offer a free and impartial dispute resolution service to resolve the dispute.
Give yourself the best chance of getting your full deposit back by looking after the property during your tenancy.
Preparing for Disputes
Not many landlords enter into a formal dispute, but if yours does, they must be able to prove their claim to the deposit deductions with robust evidence. This includes the tenancy agreement, and inventory/check in and out reports and possibly photos and copies of correspondence. Make sure you attend "check-out" before vacating the property to reduce the chance of a dispute.