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Deposit protection schemes

When letting a property, most landlords and letting agents ask tenants for a deposit as security against damage or non-payment of rent. Yet getting your deposit back when you leave can be tricky.

For example, you may clean the property you were renting from top to bottom leaving it spotless before you leave, but your landlord may still try to find a reason to keep back part of your deposit.

The good news is that since April 2007 in England and Wales, a scheme was introduced to protect tenants' deposits in respect of assured shorthold tenants.

If you pay a deposit when renting a property, your landlord must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme to safeguard it.

This means it may be easier to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy, provided that the landlord doesn’t need to make deductions, such as for damage caused to the property.

Resolving deposit disputes

There are a couple of deposit protection schemes. Each one has a different dispute resolution process so that disputes over whether the landlord was justified in holding on to some or all of a deposit can be resolved.

Each scheme offers a free service that tenants can use to sort out deposit disputes, instead of going to court. The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) decides how much of the deposit you should get back.

Which? Legal can help

Our specialist advisers can advise on your rights as a tenant, as well as those of the landlord and letting agency.

We can provide clear, expert legal advice when things go wrong and can guide you through the steps necessary to take when faced with a tenancy dispute such as:

  • a landlord fails to put your deposit in a scheme or fails to provide details of the scheme
  • a landlord refuses to return your deposit
  • a landlord wants to make deductions for wear and tear on the property
  • you need to challenge the deductions your landlord wants to make

Our team of specialist advisers can answer any questions that you have about your tenancy deposit and provide individual, jargon-free advice to help you resolve a tenant dispute.

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Meet your experts
Catherine Cain Catherine qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and joined Which? Legal in 2018. Catherine previously worked in private practice. See profile
Matthew Tribble Matthew qualified as a solicitor in 2013 and joined Which? Legal in March 2019. See profile
Victoria Helps Victoria joined Which? Legal in 2016. Before that, Victoria worked as a legal adviser for seven years at The Co-operative Legal Services. See profile