Security deposit refund claims

If your standard occupation contract has come to an end, and there is a dispute over the return of all or part of your security deposit, you may have to go to court to get your deposit back.

Can the deposit protection scheme help me get my deposit back?

If you are an standard contract-holder, your landlord should have protected your deposit in a government-approved deposit protection scheme.

If, at the end of the contract, you cannot agree about the return of some or all of your deposit, then you can use the deposit protection scheme’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. It is free to use for both you and your landlord. 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.

If either you or your landlord do not agree to use the ADR service then the dispute will usually go to the county court.

If your renting agreement started before the 6 April 2007 it is unlikely that your deposit is protected by a scheme and you will have to go to the county court if you are unable to sort the dispute out yourselves by negotiating.

Requesting the return of your security deposit

When you move out and your renting agreement ends, discuss the return of your security deposit with your landlord. If you both agree about the return of the deposit, and any deductions, then your landlord should return your deposit as soon reasonably possible.

If you do not receive the deposit in full write to your landlord to request that the deposit is returned. You can use our D4 template letter.

You should also contact the protection scheme that protected the deposit. They can inform you of the process if your landlord does not return your deposit and you wish to raise a dispute.

Considering going to court

If you decide not to use your deposit protection scheme ADR process, or you deposit is not protected by a scheme, then you may need to go to court to get your security deposit refunded.

You do this by starting a claim for a refund against your landlord in your local county court. If your claim is for less than £10,000 you can use the ‘small claims procedure’. The county court will look at the evidence and decide whether your landlord should return some or all of your deposit.

Bear in mind that your landlord may counterclaim against you. This is when your landlord makes a claim against you in response to your claim – for example, your landlord could counterclaim if you owe rent or if you have damaged the property. Remember, if the court find that your landlord’s counterclaim is worth more than your refund claim, you could end up owing them money.

The procedure is supposed to be simple and straightforward enough for people to use without the need of a solicitor. You can’t get legal aid to make a claim but you can get help from Shelter Cymru if you have questions about the procedure.

You can also follow the steps below to help the process run as smoothly as possible:

Step 1 : Send a letter before action

The court will expect that a letter before action is sent to your landlord before you start a claim. This will let your landlord know that are not happy that your security deposit has not been repaid, and give them the chance to put it right, otherwise you intend go to court.

The letter before action should include the following:

  • details of any letters/emails you have already sent to your landlord about the deposit
  • details of the deductions that have been made from your security deposit and why you dispute them
  • details of any supporting evidence you have to support your claim (for example, you may have taken photographs of the condition of the property, or have an inventory)
  • a deadline to respond to you, otherwise you will go to court. 14 days is usually enough time.

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

  1. Sample letter D5 – My landlord has not returned any of my deposit and I want to claim a refund.
  2. Sample letter D6 – My landlord has only returned part of my deposit and I want to claim a refund of the deductions.

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

Step 2 – Apply to court

If your landlord does not reply to your letter before action, or you cannot reach an agreement between yourselves over the deposit, you can make an application to the county court for the return of some or all of your deposit.

You should consider any offers your landlord makes to you before going ahead with the application.

You can make your claim:

Step 3 – Include evidence

Include evidence to support your claim. Unless you are making your claim online, you will need to include copies of all relevant documents with your claim form, such as:

  • a copy of your occupation contract
  • copies of all letters / emails between you and your landlord relating to the security deposit
  • if rent arrears are claimed, records of payments made
  • the inventory
  • any photographs you have taken that support your claim
  • receipts of any items you have repaired or replaced, or for decorating or cleaning the property when you moved out
  • statements from witnesses.

If you are starting your claim online, you will have to send these documents in to the court separately by post at a later date. The court will tell you when to do this.

Step 4 – Claim fees and interest

You can ask the court to order that your landlord pay your fees in starting the claim and interest on the amount you are owed.

If you are asking for a refund of your deposit, for example, because your contract has ended, you can ask the court to order that your landlord pays you interest on the amount owed.

You can charge interest from the date your deposit should have been returned. You will need to include this on the claim form. The rate of interest you can claim is usually 8% on the total amount of money you are owed but you should check with the court before claiming as this figure could change.

Step 5 – Pay court fees or claim an exemption

There is a court fee payable to start your claim. The amount of the fee will depend on the amount of your claim.

You may not have to pay some or all of the fee if you are on a low income. You may qualify for a fee remission or exemption. To apply you need to complete an application form EX160 and provide evidence of your income. The form is available in English and Welsh.

The fee will be payable when you submit the claim. You should include the appropriate fee or a completed application for a fee exemption or remission.

You can read more about court fees here.

Step 6 – Submit the claim to court

If you are using money claim online, your claim will be submitted electronically.

If you are completing a paper application, once you have completed the form, and gathered together all the supporting evidence, you have to send 3 copies to:

County Court Money Claims Centre
Salford Business Centre
PO Box 527
Salford M5 0BY.

Step 7 – 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 limits given, you can ask the court to consider the claim anyway and come to a decision. This is called asking for ‘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  a reasonable offer.

Landlord disputes your claim

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

The court may also tell you to provide additional 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 8 – 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 and whether your landlord should return all or some of your deposit. The judge will also decide whether or not your landlord should pay your court fees and any interest you have claimed.

If you lose the case there is nothing more you can do to get your deposit back unless you appeal. A reason to appeal could be because the court hasn’t considered the evidence properly. You should seek legal advice if you are thinking about appealing.

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This page was last updated on: December 1, 2023

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.