Tenancy Deposit Protection - What is it and what protection do I get?
16 Feb, 2017
When renting a property many landlords require that you give them a deposit. This is often 4-6 weeks’ rent - which can amount to over £1,000.
Not many people have this kind of cash spare so knowing that your deposit is safe and that you will get it back at the end of your tenancy is important.
If you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy (which started after April 6, 2007) then, by law, your landlord must use a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme to safeguard your deposit.
What is Tenancy Deposit Protection?
In England and Wales there are three approved schemes and by law your landlord must use one of these schemes for your deposit if you are renting on an assured shorthold tenancy. An assured shorthold tenancy is the most common type of tenancy agreement used by landlords.
The three approved schemes are:
Depending on the scheme the landlord will either hand over the deposit in full (a custodial scheme) or pay a fee (an insurance scheme) to them and hold onto the deposit.
When your deposit is due back at the end of your tenancy the full deposit, or agreed amount if there are to be deductions, is paid back to you. If the landlord has used an insurance scheme and they can’t afford to pay back your deposit then the scheme will cover the amount that is owed to you.
What protection do the schemes offer me?
Tenancy Deposit Protection was introduced in April 2007 to safeguard tenants and make sure they get their deposit back if they have met the terms of their tenancy agreement.
This means that if you have adhered to your tenancy agreement, not caused any damage to the property and paid all your rent/bills etc you should be entitled to receive your deposit in full. If any of these haven’t been met then you may only receive some of your deposit or in extreme cases none of your deposit.
Before the scheme there were concerns about some landlords not paying deposits back because they had spent them or simply wanted to hang onto them.
When your landlord or letting agent uses one of these schemes they must inform you within 30 days of receiving the deposit and give you information on where it is held. The full list of information they must supply you with is here. If they don’t provide you with all of this information they are breaking the law and you could claim compensation from them through a court.
At the end of your tenancy they must return your deposit within 10 days of both of you agreeing how much you will receive back.
What if my landlord doesn’t put my deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme?
If you are on an assured shorthold tenancy then they must use a government-approved scheme to protect your deposit. If they don’t they are breaking the law. This doesn’t apply to ‘holding deposit’ - money you pay to hold a property.
If you aren’t sure whether your landlord or letting agent has used one of these schemes you can check with the three schemes directly.
If they haven’t used a scheme then you may be able to claim compensation through a court. There is more information about how to do this via the Citizen Advice Bureau.
What if there is a dispute about returning my deposit?
If you and your landlord don’t agree about how much of your deposit should be returned at the end of your tenancy agreement then you can seek help from the scheme your deposit is protected with. This is a free service known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR).