Why do I need a deposit and how does it work?

Most landlords or property agents will ask you to pay a deposit when you move in. A deposit gives the landlord security in case you cause damage to the property or don’t pay rent. The deposit belongs to you, and you should get it back when you move out if there is no damage or rent owed.

Check if your landlord has to protect your deposit

You’ll probably have to pay a ‘tenancy deposit’ to your landlord or letting agent before you can rent your home. Your tenancy deposit will usually be the same amount as 4 or 5 weeks’ rent. If you originally agreed your tenancy on or after 1 June 2019, it’s illegal for your landlord to force you to pay a deposit of more than 5 weeks’ rent (or 6 weeks’ rent if your annual rent is more than £50,000). If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your deposit must be ‘protected’ in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) until you move out of the property. The scheme keeps your money safe and makes sure you get back what you’re owed at the end of your tenancy. Your deposit must be protected even if someone else paid it for you, for example, your parents or a friend. Your deposit doesn’t have to be protected if you’re a lodger or a student in halls. It also doesn’t have to be protected if you rent privately and have an assured or protected tenancy.

Find out if your deposit is protected
Your deposit should be protected by one of 3 TDP scheme providers:
• Deposit Protection Service
• My Deposits
• Tenancy Deposit Scheme
If your landlord or letting agent hasn’t told you if they’ve protected your deposit, check the scheme providers’ websites. You’ll need to enter a few details, for example, your postcode, surname and the date you started your tenancy. Your tenancy agreement, if you have one, will show this information. You might need to enter the details of any joint tenants if you can’t find the details under your own name. If you’ve renewed your tenancy, it’s worth checking the different start dates too. If you still can’t find out whether your deposit has been protected, speak to someone at each
TDP scheme provider. You can find their contact numbers on their websites.

If your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit

Don’t worry if your landlord or letting agent hasn’t protected your deposit when they should have – you don’t need to do anything. You’ll still be able to claim back the money you’re owed, and you might be able to get compensation from your landlord or agent.

If you get a section 21 eviction notice
Your landlord or agent will have to pay your deposit back to you before they can evict you with a section 21 notice if:
• Your deposit wasn’t protected, and it should have been
• Your deposit was protected late

Your landlord also must give you ‘prescribed information’ – this includes details about the property and your deposit. They won’t be able to evict
you with a section 21 notice if they haven’t given you this information. If your landlord gives you the prescribed information late or pays your deposit back to you, they will be able to evict you with a section 21 notice.