What is a deposit?
A deposit is the amount of money, normally one month’s rent, that a landlord or agent keeps until the end of your contract. The deposit protects them (and you) if there is any damage or unpaid rent during your time in the property. Landlords are required by law to protect your deposit in a deposit protection scheme.
The three government-approved schemes are:
If your landlord is using any other scheme your deposit is not protected.
Watch out for any landlord that says they are not taking a deposit but instead want higher administration charges, a returnable reward/admin fee or higher advanced rent payments. They could be trying to avoid their legal obligations to protect your deposit. Legally, any money a landlord takes that is ‘refundable’ if you leave the property in a good condition is a deposit and has to be protected for the full duration of your contract.
You must also be given certain prescribed information within 30 days of paying your deposit, this should include:
- The address of the rented property
- How much deposit you’ve paid
- How the deposit is protected
- The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and Its dispute resolution service
- Their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details
- The name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
- Why they would keep some or all of the deposit
- How to apply to get the deposit back
- What to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
- What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit
Failure to comply
What happens if the agent or landlord fails to comply with the requirements?
- only protects a tenants deposit after 30 days
- fails to give the tenant details of the scheme used within 30 days
- fails to protect a deposit
This failure can be used in any negotiations or you can start proceedings in the County Court asking for compensation. Before starting any proceedings you should get further advice from either the Students’ Union Advice Centre (link to SUAC) or a Lawyer as there are risks involved if you do not succeed.
If you are successful there are two orders a court can make:-
- A compensation order against the landlord of between 1 to 3 times the value of your deposit.
- An order requiring the landlord to protect your deposit in a scheme if it has not already been done.
For more information on deposits please look at:
- Shelter https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/tenancy_deposits • Gov.UK https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/information-landlords-must-give-tenants • Or contact Students’ Union Advice Centre link to SUAC
Renting direct from a landlord
Your landlord is legally responsible for protecting your deposit. It’s important to check that they have or you could struggle to get your money back without going to court. They should provide you with the documentation stating which scheme they are using along with your contract.
Top tips when handing over deposit money:
- Never pay any money until you have signed your contract, if you change your mind over the house you could lose your deposit. • If you pay cash for your deposit get a receipt and attach it to your housing contract so it doesn’t get lost. • If you pay a ‘holding deposit’ check the conditions because the landlord could keep your money if you decide not to sign your housing contract. • Once you’ve paid a deposit, most landlords will have to protect the money in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days. Your landlord has to let you know which scheme they are with when they give you your tenancy agreement.
Renting from the University or living with the owner of the property
If you live in University accommodation or rent a room in a house with the owner, they do not legally have to protect your deposit.