Return of your rent deposit

🕑 5 minute read

When your tenancy agreement is up and you’ve moved out of your rented home, getting your deposit back will be high on your list of priorities.

The return of your deposit can cause concern for renters, especially if you’ve had trouble with the landlord or letting agency in the past.

You’ll be looking to get your deposit back relatively unscathed, without any unnecessary or unfair charges. Find out how to help protect your deposit and avoid a headache next time you move on.

How long does your landlord have to return your deposit?

Once the amount has been agreed between you and your landlord, your deposit has to be returned within 10 days.

For most renters, your deposit must be kept in government approved tenancy deposit scheme. If you have a dispute over the amount of deductions, it will be kept here until the issue is resolved.

The scheme should help mediate the return of your deposit, so you can request it’s return directly from them, instead of your landlord. Requesting the return of your deposit should be in writing.

What can a landlord take from your deposit?

A landlord can take money from your deposit as compensation for unpaid costs. When you first signed the lease and moved in, you should have been given an inventory of everything in the property, with pictures or descriptions of any existing damage.

Landlords are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the property, so they cannot deduct costs from your deposit for general wear and tear.

They can make deductions from your deposit for:

  • Unpaid rent.
    Any monies owed for rent will be taken from the deposit. The landlord should tell you of any shortfall in rent before it gets to this point, so make sure you have statements to prove rent has been paid.
  • Damage you have caused.
    A carpet stain or scrapes in paintwork are classed as damage.
  • Broken furniture or appliances.
    If you break or damage an appliance or furniture you could be charged. If they stop working due to age, the landlord cannot remove costs from you. 

Challenging deposit deductions

You can challenge any deposit deductions that you feel are unfair.

Here’s how to challenge a deduction from your deposit:

  • Talk to your landlord directly.
    This should always be the first port of call. Explain why you think a specific charge is unfair, in writing if possible. Keep a record of any conversations you’ve had with the landlord.
  • Raise it with the letting agency.
    Most landlords work with a letting agency, so get in touch if there’s a problem.
  • Speak to the tenancy deposit scheme provider.
    Your tenancy deposit scheme provider should offer a free service for disputes. If your landlord has not put your deposit into a tenancy scheme in a timely manner, they may be liable to repay 1-3 times the amount.
  • Legal action.
    If all other routes have failed, you may have to take legal action.

Head over to Shelter to get free, impartial advice about landlord disputes and tenancy deposits. 

Tips for keeping your deposit intact

  • Take a video or photos of the property once you move in and again when you move out.
  • Make a note of any wear and tear or damage that is already present before you move in. Submit this before you request your deposit back.
  • Get a professional cleaning company in to do a thorough deep clean of the property before you move. Keep the receipt to prove this has been done.
  • Replace items that you have broken yourself. Keep receipts for anything you’ve replaced to prove this.
  • Pay rent in full and on time. It goes without saying, but it’s always best to make sure your rent is paid correctly and on the day agreed. 

Check if your deposit is protected

As of April 2007, it is a legal requirement for landlords to put deposits into a tenancy deposit scheme.

The scheme is to protect your deposit and ensure that you can get it back when the lease has expired. When you start your tenancy, your landlord should provide you with the correct information within 30 days.

There are instances where a deposit protection scheme is not required, including a student living in halls of residence or a lodger. Unlike a tenant, a lodger will live in the same property as the landlord.

If your deposit is not with a tenancy deposit scheme, and it should be, you could be owed compensation between 1-3 times the amount.

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