Tenants – How to ensure you get your deposit back


When it comes to the end of your tenancy, it is understandable that you have a lot of things to consider and action. It is also fair to say that you have a lot of things to pay for and this is why having as much money as possible at your disposal is of great benefit. This is why you want to ensure that you get your deposit back, and while this should be a simple and straightforward process, it can sometimes be more difficult than you would think.

Steps you can take to improve your chances of getting your deposit back:

  • Photograph every room and area when you move in
  • Complete an inventory when you move in and maintain this inventory
  • Clean during your tenancy – don’t just leave it to the end or before inspection
  • Review your contract to see if any cleaning requirements are included
  • Don’t just clean where you can see – remember those hard to clean areas

Regarding your deposit, your landlord has a duty to protect your deposit and it should be placed with a government backed scheme, if it is an assured short hold tenancy. You should ask your landlord to find out where your deposit is protected and all of the tenancy deposit protection schemes provide you with the opportunity to check if your deposit is protected.

At the end of your tenancy, you should write to your landlord and request your deposit. It always makes sense to make your requests in writing and you should look to keep a copy of this written request.

Correspond in writing and retain a copy for your own records

If you only receive a part of your deposit, write a letter asking for an explanation for the deductions that have been made. A landlord has a right to withhold some of your deposit to pay for unpaid rent or any damages that have occurred at the property, but this withholding of your deposit must be justified.

If you are not satisfied with the reasons provided by your landlord, or they are not engaging with you, you should contact an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. This is a free service and the decision made by the service is final. Even if your landlord hadn’t protected your deposit, you will be able to make a compensation claim.

If you are not satisfied with this resolution, it is possible to take your landlord to court to obtain compensation but bear in mind that you will have to pay your own fees. This represents a risk for many people and if you lose you may find that you have to pay all or some of the legal costs of your landlord.

In addition to gathering evidence about the condition of your property at the start and end of the tenancy, you should also look to gather and then provide evidence about the money that you have paid. This can include:

  • A receipt indicating that you have paid the deposit
  • A bank statement indicating rent payments
  • Any receipts for items that you have repaired or replaced

Before you take any action, you should look to inform your landlord of what you intend to do and again, maintaining a written record yourself will help you to prove that you informed the landlord at all times.

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