The majority of landlords and letting agents will ask for a deposit. Your landlord or letting agency must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007. The exceptions to this are if you live in halls or as a lodger, or have paid a holding deposit (money you pay to ‘hold’ a property before an agreement is signed).
In England your deposit can be registered with:
Your landlord or letting agent must inform you which scheme they have used and how much has been deposited. You can also check online to ensure that your deposit has been protected with the relevant scheme. You will need to provide your rental property postcode, tenancy start date, tenancy deposit amount and the tenant's name.
Your tenancy agreement or licence should ideally specify what the deposit is meant to cover.
- You should not have any money taken from your deposit to cover fair wear and tear.
- There is no legal maximum deposit, but the amount is normally equivalent of one or two months' rent.
- Don't pay a deposit until you've signed a tenancy agreement or licence to occupy.
- When you pay the deposit, make sure that you get a signed receipt (or scheme certificate) for the full amount paid which clearly sets out what the deposit covers.
- Check how quickly you will get your deposit back once you have left the property.
- If you have a joint tenancy, money can be taken from all your deposits to cover damage, cleaning and bills for any part of the property or share of bills outstanding.
- If you have an individual agreement, you can only have money taken from your deposit to cover repairs or cleaning caused by your actions, or for your share of outstanding bills.
At the end of your tenancy the deposit scheme will make sure you will get your deposit back if you:
- meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
- don’t damage the property
- pay your rent and bills
Your landlord or letting agent must return your deposit within ten days of you both agreeing how much you will get back.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord or letting agent, then your deposit will be protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is sorted out. Your tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme offers a free dispute resolution service if you disagree with your landlord/letting agent about how much deposit should be returned.
You do not have to use the service but if you do, both you and the landlord/letting agent have to agree to it. You will both be asked to provide evidence, and the decision made about your deposit will be final.
If your deposit is not protected
Send a letter or email asking your landlord or letting agent to protect your tenancy deposit, even if it is outside the 30-day deadline. If this is still not done, you can threaten court action. Further details on this process and suitable template letters can be found on the Shelter website.
Last updated March 2022