Tenant's FAQs about deposit protection
A handy resource containing answers to your questions about deposit protection and how the scheme works.
What is tenancy deposit protection?
The legislation covers all deposits taken on Assured Short-hold Tenancies (AST’s) in England and Wales.
All deposits taken after 6 April 2007 on an AST must now be protected by one of the government-authorised deposit protection schemes.
What are the different types of tenancy deposit protection schemes?
- The landlord or agent must hand over the tenant’s deposit money to the custodial scheme to hold for the duration of the tenancy.
- The custodial scheme retains any interest earned on the deposit for that time.
- When the tenancy ends, both the landlord and the tenant must apply for the release of the deposit in the proportion agreed between them.
- The landlord or agent keeps hold of the tenant’s deposit and pays a fee to protect it.
- At the end of the tenancy the landlord/agent is free to discuss and agree the amount of deposit to be returned, without involving the scheme.
All three schemes offer a free dispute resolution service if the landlord and tenant cannot agree over the amount of deposit to be returned at the end of the tenancy.
Who is mydeposits?
- mydeposits provides both insurance and custodial based tenancy deposit protection in England & Wales.
- In April 2007 the Government appointed mydeposits to operate an insurance-based scheme and in April 2016, mydeposits custodial scheme.
- mydeposits is jointly owned by the Hamilton Fraser Insurance (HFIS plc) and the National Landlords Association (NLA).
Who can join mydeposits?
What are the penalties for failing to protect a deposit?
- The Landlord will be unable to regain possession of the property by notice-only grounds for possession under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988
- The Tenant can apply for a Court Order requiring the deposit to be protected, and for the Prescribed Information to be given to them
- If the Court is satisfied that the Landlord has failed to comply, the court must either:
- Order the Landlord to repay the deposit to the Tenant within 14 days of the issuing of the Court Order, or
- Order the Landlord to pay the deposit into the designated account held by the Custodial Scheme Administrator
- The Court may also order the Landlord to pay the Tenant an amount equivalent to three times the deposit amount within 14 days of the making of the Order
- The Court is likely to also award costs against the Landlord
How do I find out if my deposit is protected?
Your landlord should provide you with proof of protection within 30 days from the date they take the deposit. You can check if your deposit has been protected with mydeposits using our Deposit Checker – you will need the property address (including postcode), fixed term dates and a list of all the named tenants as per the AST agreement.
If your deposit is not protected with mydeposits your Landlord may have protected it with another deposit protection scheme, check the shelter website for details.
What information is provided on the proof of protection?
- When your landlord protects your deposit they must provide the following details:
- Landlord/Agent Name, Address, Contact Number, Fax/Email details
- The Address of the Rental Property
- Deposit Amount
- Date Deposit Taken
- Start Date of Tenancy
- Earliest Contractual End Date and Actual End Date of Tenancy
- Name of Tenants
- Date Deposit was Protected
- Alternative Address, Contact Telephone Number and/or email for Tenant
These details form the mydeposits template or certificate.
Your Landlord must give you a signed copy of the document. You should check that all the information and details are correct and then sign it.
By signing the certificate, you have acknowledged that all of the details are correct – you should inform your Landlord if any details are incorrect.
Why do you need an Alternative Address/Email Address?
- By law we need to notify you at the end of the tenancy to inform you that your landlord has unprotected your deposit. An alternative address could be:-
- Close Friend
If a parent / third party pays the deposit on your behalf, does the deposit still need protecting?
- Yes. All persons/parties who contribute to the deposit should have their names recorded with mydeposits. We need their names, contact details and company/organisation details (if applicable). It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide these details.
Can my landlord charge me for the cost of protecting my deposit?
- There is nothing stopping the landlord from passing the costs onto you, although it is not considered to be in the spirit of the legislation
I was asked by my landlord to provide a holding deposit so I could secure the property. Does it need to be protected?
- Landlords sometimes ask prospective tenants to pay a holding deposit to ensure they are committed and serious to renting the property. In the event of deal falling through the Landlord may decide to keep the holding deposit to compensate for any inconvenience caused.Holding deposits do not have to be protected in a deposit protection scheme.
However, if the holding deposit is then used as all or part of the deposit when the tenancy agreement is signed it must be protected.
When must the Landlord return all or part of the deposit?
- As the tenant, once you have left the property you should make a formal request in writing to the landlord, asking them to return your deposit.
- The landlord should respond within 10 days to make you aware of how much of your deposit they intend to return. If they are making deductions, they should outline the reasons for this.
What are the implications if I have not paid all my rent?
- You cannot raise a dispute over the deposit until you have resolved any issues over missing rent payments or calculating rent. You must fulfil your contractual obligations under the terms of your AST.
What organisations can offer me help?
- Shelter or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau can provide you with assistance and advice, or alternatively, you can speak to someone who is legally trained.
I agree that the landlord can deduct some of my deposit, but not that much. Can I dispute this?
- Speak to your Landlord and explain why you feel the amount is unreasonable. It is advisable to put your argument into writing. Where possible give alternative costing for repair or replacement or an alternative quote for works to be undertaken.
Should my landlord charge me less if they intend to do the repair work themselves?
- The landlord can charge a suitable, commercial rate for any work carried out. If you think its unreasonable you may seek alternative quotes, however the Landlord does not have to instruct the alternative that you find. If the Landlord refuses to consider your alternative or adjust the deduction accordingly, ask for a written explanation.
My Landlord has provided invoices/quotations for replacement goods “as new” following damage or destruction that I have caused. Do I have to pay the full amount?
- You should read your AST contract, as it may state that you must pay full price for replacements. However, if the damage has been subject to fair wear and tear, it may be reasonable to take that into consideration.
My Landlord has quoted me a replacement price for the damaged/missing items. Can I dispute the amount charged by the landlord if I can find cheaper, or if the item is not replaced?
- What is important is that the amount the Landlord asked for is reasonable and justifiable. It is not part of the dispute process to decide what the Landlord does with the amount
I have paid for cleaning /repairs to be undertaken, however the Landlord is not happy with the results. What happens?
- The Landlord can reasonably expect cleaning or repairs to return the property to the same state at the start of the tenancy. You should ask the landlord to justify any objections to you directly. It advisable to take dated photographs, before and after, to keep receipts and guarantees and any other evidence you have.
What if the Landlord wants to claim for more than the amount of the deposit?
- The landlord is unable to raise a dispute with mydeposits for amounts greater than the deposit. The Landlord can take additional action against you by other means.
What is an inventory?
- An inventory is an itemised list and condition of the contents at the property. It may contain indicative values. It should include all furniture included by the Landlord as part of the furnishings, but it should also point out the condition of the walls, curtains, carpets, bathroom, kitchen appliances, garden and property. It should be signed by you as an accurate representation of the property at the start of the tenancy. If there are any amendments to the inventory during your tenancy they should be recorded and agreed by both parties.
My Landlord did not undertake an initial inspection and/or produce an inventory when I moved in. How do I produce the evidence?
- The dispute process relies on clear evidence to assess the proof of the landlord’s deduction. If an initial inspection or inventory has not been produced this may weaken the Landlord’s position. However it is your responsibility as tenant to point out damage to the Landlord and not to do so may constitute negligence or deceit on your part, whether you were responsible or not. If a Landlord does inspect, make sure you do also and support your inspection with your own inventory and photographs. Get the schedule inventory signed by an independent witness if your Landlord refuses to do so.
Can I make my Landlord conduct an exit inspection prior to my leaving?
- No, but it will weaken their position if there is a dispute. If the Landlord does not arrange an inspection, you can do your own; again it is advisable to back this up with photographs.
Can my Landlord charge me for the exit inspection and withhold it from my deposit?
- A Landlord can charge for an exit inspection. However this charge should be stipulated in your AST and the amount agreed in advance. Many Landlords use an independent Inventory Services for both check-in and check-out inspections. Whilst this incurs a charge, it does hopefully ensure a reliable measure for resolving disputes.
Can my Landlord withhold my deposit to cover outstanding utility bills?
- You should read the terms of the AST Agreement. In most cases the responsibility for utility bills is with the Tenant. At the end of the tenancy a Landlord should arrange for a final reading of utility meter and for a final bill to be sent to the Tenant. If there are arrears on the bill then the utility companies should pursue the Tenant for the amount outstanding. In the case of the Landlord being responsible for the payment of the utility bills, the cost of these will be reflected in the rental payment. There may be provisions in your AST as to what happens in case of excessive charges.
Can my Landlord withhold my deposit for outstanding Council Tax?
- No. You are liable for the Council Tax bill, as your Landlord will have informed the Council that you are residing in the property as a Tenant. Each Tenant in the property is jointly and severally responsible for the Council Tax liability.
If I ask for my dispute to be referred to the mydeposits dispute resolution can the Adjudicator decide if the amount of deposit withheld was insufficient?
- No. The ADR process will only adjudicate on the amount of the deposit in dispute. If therefore the Landlord withheld half the amount of the deposit, that is the maximum that can be awarded to the Landlord.
If I ask for the dispute to be referred to dispute resolution but the Landlord does not want to proceed to use it, what happens?
- If your landlord uses our insurance scheme then the disputed deposit must be sent to us for safekeeping. The only other way the dispute can be resolved is by a Court. Once a Court Order is made, either you or the Landlord should send the sealed Order to us and we will apportion the deposit appropriately.
I am returning overseas immediately after my tenancy ends. Can I still raise a dispute with mydeposits?
- Yes. You must give us your full contact details along with an e-mail address.
Can you make payments into my foreign bank account?
- Yes, however any charges involved in doing this will be your responsibility.
My Landlord intends to make a deduction from part of my deposit but I have not received the remaining amount, what happens now?
- The Landlord has 10 days to return all or part of your deposit. If you do not receive any of your deposit then you may raise a dispute for the full amount. We will request the Landlord sends all of the deposit to us. If the Landlord makes payment of any undisputed amount after 10 days but before lodging it with us, we will ask for proof that this has been done i.e. bank transfer receipt or written confirmation from you.
I am on housing benefit and my Landlord has refused to return my deposit until after my last housing benefit payment has been paid. What can I do?
- Just like outstanding rent, outstanding housing benefit has to be received by the Landlord in order to fulfil the terms of the AST. The Landlord must return your deposit 10 days after the receipt of the benefit money. Any deposit dispute will be dealt with after this period.If you need the deposit money for a further letting, please ask for advice from your local Social Security Office.
What evidence should be provided?
- Signed AST Agreement – and everything connected to this agreement
- Check in / check out reports
- Schedule of condition
- Photos / video – must be date stamped for authenticity
- Invoices / receipts to prove work has been done – cleaning, dry cleaning, gardening etc.
- Any other relevant supporting evidence
Make sure the evidence you provide is relevant and your written submissions are clear, easy to understand and properly presented.
The Adjudicator will analyse all evidence and submissions but may not refer to every piece of evidence submitted in the Adjudication Report.
How long does it take for an ADR decision to be reached once all the paperwork is sent to the Adjudicator?
- A decision is normally reached within 28 days and both parties notified within 10 days of the Adjudicators decision.
Can an Adjudicator award an amount greater than the disputed amount?
- The Adjudicator does have authority to award an amount greater than the disputed sum but it is unlikely this will happen. The Adjudicator is not able to award an amount that is greater than the deposit amount.If the ADR decision exceeds the disputed amount, we will notify the parties and pay the difference between the lodged sum and the final decision. The landlord will then be required to pay the remaining amount to mydeposits within 10 days of the decision.
How much evidence should I supply for my dispute case?
- The onus is on both the landlord and tenant to submit any evidence that they feel may be useful to support the case. You need to arrange all of your evidence at the start. You must not hold back relevant paperwork as this could be fatal to your case.
Can I take legal action following the dispute resolution outcome?
- When both parties agree to use ADR, they also agree to be bound by the decision of the Adjudicator. A detailed explanation of the reasons for the decision is always provided to both parties.You may wish to challenge the decision through the Courts but on very limited grounds.