Deposits for renting

Tenancy deposits are confusing – and expensive. So what happens if you don’t have enough money? Can you get help paying for one? And what if your landlord doesn’t give your deposit back? We explain all.

monopoly money

Annoyingly, monopoly money isn't accepted.

What is a tenancy deposit?

Your tenancy deposit covers any damage you may do to the place you’re renting. You pay it before you move in and, providing you don’t trash the place, you should get it all back when you move out.

How much is a deposit?

A deposit is normally four to six week’s rent. You usually have to pay it along with your first month’s rent. So, yes, it’s expensive. Ouch.

What happens to my deposit?

It’s illegal for your landlord to simply pocket your deposit. They must put it into a ‘tenancy deposit protection scheme’. The landlord should give you a signed deposit protection certificate, as well as information on getting it back at the end of your tenancy.

Can I get help with paying my deposit?

Charities and councils run ‘rent deposit schemes’ where they pay the deposit for you if you pay them back in instalments. You can find your nearest scheme through this search box on the Crisis website.

Each scheme has different criteria, like being homeless or having young children, so you’ll have to ask them whether you qualify.

Should I get all of my deposit back?

The landlord can take money out of the deposit for:

  • damage to the property
  • missing items
  • cleaning
  • unpaid rent

Your landlord cannot take money out for general wear and tear, like the carpet getting worn down (but they can charge you for the massive red wine stain, as that counts as damage). If your landlord takes any money out of your deposit for repairs or replacements you can ask for receipts as proof.

When do I get my deposit back?

You should get what’s left of your deposit back 10 days after your tenancy ends.

What if my landlord won’t give me my deposit back?

If your landlord doesn’t give you the deposit back, or takes money out of it without a good reason, tell your tenancy deposit protection scheme ASAP. They will run an ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (ADR) service to solve any disagreements. However, if you go through ADR their decision is final, so you can’t take your landlord to court afterwards.

What if my landlord hasn’t put my deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme?

Start by writing them a letter asking for the deposit, explaining you have every right to take them to court. If they haven’t paid your deposit into a scheme within 30 days of receipt of this letter the court can order them to pay back the full amount (and sometimes more). For more advice, contact the nearest Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Next Steps

  • Moving out for the first time? Get the real Home Truths.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015