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Getting your security deposit back

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What is a security deposit?

If you are renting privately, you’ll most likely have an assured shorthold tenancy and have paid a damage deposit at the start of your tenancy. The maximum amount is equivalent to 5 weeks rent money which can be held during your tenancy to cover costs of any tenancy breaches such as damage to the property or rent arrears. 

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What happens to my security deposit?

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord is legally obliged to protect your security deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme, (TDS).

There is no legal obligation to protect a security deposit if you live with or in the same building as your landlord.  If your landlord refuses to return your deposit, you may need to take court action. Please get in touch if you find yourself in this situation.

Within 30 days of paying your deposit, your landlord is legally obliged to provide you with confirmation of:

  • The amount of your deposit and where they have protected it
  • Information about how to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy
  • Information about the TDS dispute resolution service in the event you need to raise a dispute regarding the return of your deposit.

How do I get my deposit back?

  • Make sure you have met your end of tenancy obligations. These will be stated in your contract.
  • Ensure you leave the accommodation in good condition.
  • Attend any check out appointment and ask the landlord to sign the check out inventory. If there is no inventory, take photos of the condition of the accommodation before you leave.
  • Check to see if your deposit has been protected with one of the following custodial tenancy protection schemes. Your contract may say where your deposit is protected.

    My Deposits www.mydeposits.co.uk  Tel: 0333 321 9401

    DPS www.depositprotection.com  Tel: 0330 303 0030

    TDS www.tenancydepositscheme.com  Tel: 0300 037 1000

  • If your deposit is protected with one of the 3 custodial schemes, you can contact the scheme directly. This should be returned to you within 10 working days.
  • If your deposit is not protected with one of the above custodial schemes, it may be protected with an insurance scheme where the landlord or agent holds your money. You’ll need to contact your landlord or agent directly for your deposit. It’s best to do this by email so you have a written record. This should be returned within a reasonable time.

My landlord is refusing to return all of my deposit. What action can I take?

Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from your deposit for any unpaid rent, bills, damage, disrepair or cleaning.  However, if you’re unhappy with the proposed deductions and your negotiations have failed, you can raise an online dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDS). The landlord should return the amount of deposit that’s not in dispute.

It’s advisable to check the TDS to see what the deadline is to raise a dispute. This service is free to use but your landlord has to agree to use it. If the landlord refuses to use the service, you can consider court action.

What happens if my deposit is not protected or I did not receive the prescribed information?

You can take court action against your landlord. The court can award a penalty payment of between 1 to 3 times the amount of the deposit. However, taking court action can be costly and take a long time. Get in touch if you are considering taking court action. Although we won’t be able to attend court with you, we can advise you about the process.


Contact the SU Advice Service

Email us

Usually the fastest way to contact us is to email using our contact form.

We always aim to reply within 5 working days, but often reply much sooner.

We generally answer in chronological order but if your issue is very time sensitive please mark your email 'Urgent' and we will try to get back to you as soon as we can.

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If you prefer to speak to someone directly, and you have not spoken to us previously about the issue, you can book an appointment with an Advisor.

If you already have an Advisor assigned to you and you would like to speak to them please just email them directly - this will be usually be much faster than using the booking form!

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