Tenancy deposit protection schemes
When you pay a tenancy deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord or letting agent must protect your deposit through a Government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme.
This rule applies to all assured shorthold tenancies that started, or were renewed, on or after 6 April 2007.
Am I protected by the tenancy deposit protection scheme?
You will be protected by the scheme if you have been:
- renting a home from a private landlord or letting agent since the 6 April 2007
- your tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, and
- you have paid a deposit (not the same as rent in advance).
It doesn’t matter whether it is the tenant, or someone else such as a parent, or a local authority, who provides the money for the deposit.
What does my landlord or agent have to do?
Our animated videos on the right hand side of this page explain what your landlord should do with your deposit.
If your tenancy deposit was paid to a landlord or agent on or after 6 April 2012, within 30 days of receiving it they must:
- protect your deposit with a government backed scheme, and
- provide you with certain information. The law calls this ‘prescribed information.’
The ‘prescribed information’ that must be provided to you includes:
- details of the tenancy deposit scheme used
- any information which may be included in a leaflet supplied by the scheme
- how to get your deposit back when you leave
- what to do if there is a dispute about its return
- details of the tenancy, including the amount of deposit paid and your landlord’s name, address and contact details, together with a certificate, signed by your landlord confirming these details to be true.
You should also be provided with a copy of the deposit protection certificate, complete with your landlord’s signature.
There are two types of government approved schemes available:
- a custodial scheme – the landlord or agent pays the deposit to the scheme, which will keep it until the end of your tenancy
- an insurance scheme – the landlord or agent keeps the deposit but pays insurance premiums to the scheme. This means that the deposit is insured if there is any dispute, and the scheme will repay you the agreed amount directly.
It will be up to your landlord or agent to decide what scheme to use.
Your landlord or agent will have to pay a fee for protecting your deposit. They should not make you pay this fee, or deduct it from the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
How can I check if my deposit is protected?
Your landlord should let you know when your deposit has been protected, tell you which scheme they have used and provide you with the required information about the scheme.
If they haven’t done this, you can check yourself whether your deposit has been protected in any of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes by clicking on the links below:
How can I get my landlord to protect my deposit?
Your landlord should protect your deposit without you having to ask, but if they don’t, you can take some steps to try and ensure that they do. Click here for details.
What if my landlord doesn’t comply with the rules?
If your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit and provided the required information within 30 days, they can be taken to the county court and it can be more difficult for them to end your tenancy.
County court penalties
If your landlord does not comply with the rules, you can make an application to the county court to order that:
- your deposit is protected or returned to you and/or
- you are paid compensation of between 1 and 3 times the amount of the deposit.
Click here to read more about tenancy deposit compensation claims.
Restrictions on eviction
If your landlord does not comply with the rules, there are also restrictions on how they can evict you.
Normally, landlords of assured shorthold tenants can evict a tenant by giving a minimum of two months’ notice and then getting a court order without having to show a reason. This is sometimes known as the ‘section 21 notice procedure’.
However, if your landlord has not complied with the tenancy deposit protection rules, then they may be restricted from using this procedure.
Click here to read more about restrictions on eviction.
What if my landlord protects my deposit late?
If your landlord has protected your deposit and given you the required information outside of the 30 day time limit, but within the fixed term of your tenancy, they can serve a valid section 21 notice once the fixed term has come to an end and either your tenancy has been renewed or has become a statutory periodic tenancy (this is when the fixed term has ended but your tenancy hasn’t been replaced or renewed).
You might still be able to apply to the county court for a claim for compensation. Click here to read more about tenancy deposit compensation claims.
What happens at the end of my tenancy?
When you leave, if you and your landlord or agent both agree on how much of the deposit you should get back, you should get it back within 10 days of agreeing.
If your deposit was held in a custodial scheme, you will also receive some interest on the deposit. The custodial scheme will repay tenants direct, either by cheque or by electronic transfer. Deposits held in the insurance-based schemes will be repaid by the landlord either in cash or by cheque, as they choose. Deposits held in the insurance-based schemes will not pass on any interest to the tenant.
What if we don’t agree about whether the deposit should be paid back?
Your landlord or agent is only entitled to keep all or part of your deposit if they can show that they have lost out financially because of your actions, for example, if you have caused damage to the property, or you owe rent. Ask your landlord or agent for a breakdown of the specific costs that they are taking out of your deposit. Your landlord or agent cannot keep your deposit to cover putting right normal wear and tear.
If you don’t agree that your landlord or agent should have kept all or part of your deposit, or you disagree with some of the costs that they have taken out of it, then the tenancy deposit protection scheme your landlord or agent has used will offer a free service to help resolve disputes.
Information on what you need to do if there is a dispute will be contained in the information your landlord or agent will have given you at the start of your tenancy (see above). Each scheme will contain an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. When a dispute occurs, and if you and your landlord both agree to use the service, you will have to agree to accept its decision and will not be able to apply to the courts. If you or your landlord do not agree to use the ADR service then the dispute will usually go to the county court.
Click here to read more about going to court to get your deposit refunded.