Last edited 09 Jun 2018

Tenancy deposit protection

A tenant is the occupier of a leasehold estate, that is, someone who occupies land or property that they rent from a landlord. Tenancy is the agreement between the landlord and the tenant giving them the right of occupancy.

Deposits are usually paid by new tenants to landlords to secure the property and provide funds in the event of default, or damage to the property. If a home is rented on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) that started after 6 April 2007, the landlord must put this deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).

Scotland and Northern Ireland have different TDP schemes, but in England and Wales deposits can be registered with one of either:

Placing the deposit in such a scheme provides assurance to the tenant that as long as they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement, do not cause damage to the property, and pay rent and agreed bills, that they will receive the deposit back at the end of the tenancy.

It is the responsibility of the landlord or letting agent to put the deposit in a scheme within 30 days of receiving it from the tenant. There is no requirement to protect a holding deposit, which is usually paid before signing a tenancy agreement, but may become a protected deposit once the tenancy agreement has been signed.

Up to 30 days after receiving the deposit, the landlord must inform the tenant of certain details regarding the TDP:

  • The amount of deposit that has been paid.
  • How the deposit is being protected.
  • The name and contact details of the TDP scheme.
  • The dispute resolution service provided by the TDP scheme and what to do if there is a dispute.
  • Reasons that would cause the landlord to keep some or all of the deposit.
  • How the tenant can apply to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy.

If the tenant wants to check whether their deposit is being protected they can contact the TDP. If the landlord has failed to use a TDP scheme then a tenant is able to apply to a county court who may order the deposit to be repaid to the tenant or paid into a TDP scheme within 14 days. The court also has the authority to order the landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the deposit amount as a penalty and may decide the tenant does not have to leave the property when the tenancy ends.

At the end of a tenancy, the landlord is responsible for returning the deposit to the tenant within ten days of both parties agreeing the amount. If there is a dispute over the amount, the TDP scheme will continue to protect the deposit until the dispute has been resolved. Both parties must agree to use the free dispute resolution service offered by the TDP scheme in the event of a dispute, and both must provide evidence to the service as required. The decision is final and binding.

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