Getting your deposit back

A tenancy deposit is usually paid upfront before you move into a landlord’s property. It is paid to cover any unpaid rent or for damage you cause to the property.

However, providing you have served the correct notice, or have agreement in writing from your landlord that the tenancy is coming to an end, you should be able to claim your deposit back in full. For further advice on serving the correct notice see our end of tenancy notice guide.

Follow the advice and steps set out in this guide to help you get your deposit back.

Before asking for your deposit back

Following written confirmation from your landlord of the agreed tenancy end date you should review your agreement and inventory to check your responsibilities for repairs and replacing any missing items.

You can then make arrangements for these to take place prior to your final property inspection date. For more help with planning for the end of your tenancy see our Moving home guide.

Your tenancy agreement should tell you if your deposit has been protected in a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Most private tenants are now given what’s known as an assured shorthold tenancy, usually for six or 12 months.

Under this type of tenancy your deposit must be protected and you must be given at least two months’ notice to leave the property.

If you’re unsure if and how your deposit is protected you can check here –

Check if your deposit is protected.

How to ask for your deposit to be paid back

You should write to your landlord (or landlord’s agent if applicable) and ask for your deposit to be returned.

If your landlord is happy to receive email communication this will be fine to use in this instance providing they send a confirmation email to prove that it has been received. If email is not accepted deliver your letter by hand and ask for a receipt or post it using recorded delivery.

Your letter should include:

·       Confirmation of your agreed tenancy end date

·       Your landlord’s address and your tenancy property address

·       Your deposit amount and the date this was paid

·       How this should be paid, including a forwarding address if using cheque payment

·       Your contact details

If you encounter any problems getting your deposit back and it’s protected, you can use the scheme’s free alternative dispute service. If your landlord refuses to co-operate with the scheme then you can send them a “formal letter before action” letter. This is available to download free from Shelter

If your deposit is not in a protected scheme and you need further advice on how to challenge your landlord withholding full or part payment, you can follow these steps from Citizen’s Advice under “Challenge your landlord”.

Where your landlord may take money from your deposit

You might not get the full amount of your deposit back if, for example:

  • You owe rent

  • You've damaged the property - this could be something like a stain on the carpet or a mark on the wall from a picture or mirror you’ve hung

  • You've lost or broken some items from the inventory, like cutlery or mugs

Remember, if you take the time to check your inventory in advance and arrange to put these things right you can avoid deductions from your deposit.

Where your landlord shouldn't take from your deposit

Your landlord shouldn't take money from your deposit, for example, to:

  • Replace a worn carpet if it's worn out gradually over time

  • Fix any damage caused by a repair they didn't do when they should have. For example, a leak you told them about that got worse and damaged any fixtures

  • Decorate a whole room if there are a few scuff marks on a wall that have appeared while you've lived in the property

Your landlord can't take money from your deposit for what’s considered “reasonable wear and tear”. This means things that would gradually get worse or need replacing over time, for example paintwork, or a piece of furniture that is used daily such as a kitchen unit.