Tenancy deposit compensation claims

If you pay a tenancy deposit to a landlord for an assured shorthold tenancy,  and the landlord does not comply with the tenancy deposit protection scheme rules, you can make an application to 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.

Follow our step-by-step guide to going to court below.

Step 1 : Send a letter before action

Before going to court, you will have to send your landlord a ‘letter before action’.

The letter tells your landlord that you are not happy that your deposit has not been protected and that you plan on applying to the court to have it protected or refunded and/or to claim compensation.

It gives your landlord the opportunity to put things right if they want to try and avoid going to court. Give your landlord a deadline to respond to you, otherwise you will make a claim.

Use one of our sample letters before action. Choose which one is most suited to your situation:

If your tenancy has already ended:

  1. Sample letter TD7 : My landlord has not returned my deposit and did not protect my deposit or protected it late – I want to claim compensation and/or the return of my deposit
  2. Sample letter TD8 : My landlord only returned some of my deposit and did not protect my deposit or protected it late – I want to claim compensation and/or the return of the rest of my deposit
  3. Sample letter TD9 : My landlord has returned my deposit but did not comply with the tenancy deposit scheme rules – I want to claim compensation.

If you are still a tenant at the property:

  1. Sample letter TD3 : My landlord has not protected my deposit – I want to claim compensation and/or ask that my deposit is protected

Many landlords will agree to protect the deposit or pay what is owed, or at least negotiate, if they think you are serious about going to court.

Step 2 : Apply to court

You will need to complete a Claim form – N208 (available in English and Welsh). Download the form here and follow the Notes for claimant (N208A). Alternatively, go to your local county court and request a form from the court counter.

If you are a joint tenant, all the tenants must make the application jointly. If one of the joint tenants has disappeared it is still possible to make a claim, but you will need to apply to the court to make an order that the claim can go ahead without the missing tenant.

In the ‘Details of claim’ section, set out:

  • what you are asking the court to decide. For example, whether  and how much of your deposit should be returned to you, or if your landlord should pay you compensation
  • the outcome you are seeking –  such as the return/protection of your deposit and/or compensation
  • the legal basis for your claim. This will be your landlord’s breach of sections 213 Housing Act 2004 and the applicable penalties under 214 Housing Act 2004, and
  • that your claim is being made under Part 8 of the  Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

You can ask the court to order that your landlord pays your court fee for starting the application. If you win the case the court will usually agree to this.

If you are claiming a refund of your deposit as part of the claim, you can ask the court to order that your landlord pays you interest on the amount you are owed, payable from the date the deposit/part of the deposit should have been returned to you.

Step 3 : Include evidence

You should include any documents that you have referred to or are relevant to your claim. This could include:

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement
  • evidence that a deposit was paid and when it was paid
  • the tenancy deposit protection scheme certificate (if you have one)
  • copies of letters and/or emails to and from your landlord
  • details of enquiries you have made with tenancy deposit schemes to see if your deposit is protected.

Step 4 : Submit the claim to court and pay any fees

Before you submit the claim, make copies of the completed claim form, the Notes for defendant (N208C) and your written evidence so that you have:

  • one copy for you
  • one copy for the court
  • and one copy for each defendant (the defendant will be your landlord(s)).

Send or take the forms and evidence to the court office.

There is a fee for starting a claim, but you may not have to pay some or all of it if you are on a low income. This is called a fee remission or exemption. To apply for a fee remission or exemption, you need to complete an application EX160 and provide evidence of your income. The form can be found here, together with guidance notes.

More information about court fees can be found on the GOV.UK website.

The court will send the claim onto your landlord(s), along with a response pack which includes forms for them to fill in and return to the court.

The court will send you a ‘Notice of Issue’. This tells you that the claim has started and the date the claim was served on your landlord and the deadline for your landlord to respond.

Step 5 : Wait for your landlord’s response

Your landlord has 14 days to respond to your claim.

Landlord does nothing

If your landlord does not respond to your claim within the time, you can ask the court to make ‘judgment in default.’ If this happens, there won’t be a hearing and the judge will make a decision based on the information you have provided in your claim.

Landlord agrees with part or all of your claim

If your landlord admits that they owe you money they should complete an admission form with an offer of payment. You can then consider whether you accept their offer and complete the Notice of Admission.

The court will then decide whether to list a hearing.

You should carefully consider any offers your landlord makes you to settle the case, even if it is not the full amount you have claimed. The court may decide that you should have to pay some of your landlord’s costs for coming to court if you refuse what they consider to be  reasonable offer.

Landlord disputes your claim

The court will send you a copy of your landlord’s response form and tell you when to attend court for the hearing.

The court may also tell you to provide extra documents and give you a deadline for doing this. This could include any evidence that you want the judge to consider, including documents that you haven’t already sent in, and a written statement setting out the history of what has happened. Remember to include a ‘statement of truth’ on any witness evidence, stating “I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true” and make sure it is signed. The same applies if you have asked anyone else to do a witness statement to support your claim.

Usually the deadline for getting the information to the court is 14 days before the hearing.

Step 6 : Go to any court hearing

The court hearing should be informal and you should be able to represent yourself. Your landlord may be represented by someone else such as a solicitor.

The judge asks questions based on the evidence provided and makes a decision about your claim.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an advisor

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

This page was last updated on: August 14, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.