Paying a deposit and getting it back

What you have to pay

Advice about paying and protecting your deposit.

Before they hand over the keys to your new home, most private landlords and agents will ask for:

  • A deposit which is usually the equivalent of one months' rent, but it can be more. The deposit gives your landlord some security if you cause them a financial loss

  • Rent in advance - this is different to a deposit, but if you pay rent monthly, you will usually be asked to pay for the first month before you move in.

Paying your deposit

When you pay your deposit, you should:

  • Insist on being given a signed and dated receipt
  • Get the address and telephone number of the owner and/or agent that you are dealing with
  • Only make payments at agents' offices or once you have confirmed the contact name, address and telephone number of the landlord/agent (where possible)
  • Ask if the deposit goes into a deposit protection scheme.

In your tenancy agreement

When you sign your tenancy agreement, you should also make sure that it clearly says what the circumstances would have to be for the landlord to keep part or all of your deposit.

Deposit protection scheme

Make sure you have a receipt for your deposit. Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of getting it.

The scheme will protect your deposit. You will get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy, as as long as you:

  • Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • Don’t damage the property
  • Pay your rent and bills.

If you’re in dispute with your landlord at the end of your tenancy, the TDP scheme will protect your deposit until it is sorted out

Getting your deposit back

Both you and your landlord must agree on the amount of your deposit that you will get back before the deposit can be released.

The landlord can only keep the part or all of the money if he or she can prove that he or she has lost money because of you. Your landlord cannot keep your deposit for general wear and tear.

You have a responsibility to return the property in the same condition that it was let to you, allowing for fair wear and tear.

When you should get your money

You should be given the money when you move out or in a reasonable time afterwards.

If your deposit is held by the Deposit Protection Service it will be returned to you directly.

If you have not received your deposit within ten days of agreeing the amount with your landlord, you should contact whichever scheme is holding your deposit.

If you can't agree on how much should be returned

If you can't agree on an amount to be returned you can use alternative dispute resolution

If your landlord refuses to use the resolution service or to go to court, and you can prove this, you may be able to get your deposit money without their agreement.