How to get your deposit back

Find out how to get your deposit back when your tenancy ends.

Before you move out

Your deposit should be protected with a scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. It’s a good idea to check where it's protected before the tenancy ends.

Make sure you:

  • attend any check out inspection
  • get your landlord or agent's contact details before you leave

Your deposit doesn't have to be protected if you're a lodger. You may need to consider court action if your landlord won't return your deposit when you move out.

If you need help with a deposit 

Your landlord only has to return your deposit once your tenancy has ended. 

Look for a bond scheme in your local area if you need help with a deposit for a new home before you move out.

Ask for the money

Your first step is to write to your landlord or agent and ask them to return your deposit.

Use Shelter's template letter to request the return of your deposit

If your landlord agrees to return the deposit

Your deposit should be returned within a reasonable time, for example, 10 days.

Your landlord or agent holds your deposit during the tenancy if it's protected with an insurance scheme. They might return it to you by bank transfer or in cash.

If your deposit is protected with a custodial scheme, the money is held by the scheme during the tenancy.

You can request the release of your deposit through your online account.

If your landlord won't return your full deposit

Your landlord might want to make deductions from your deposit

They should still return the amount they think you're entitled to.

You can accept this payment. It doesn't mean that you've agreed to the deductions.

Use Shelter's template letter to negotiate about deposit deductions

Use the scheme's dispute resolution service

You can challenge deductions through the scheme if you think they're unfair.

Each deposit protection scheme has a free dispute resolution service that:

  • looks at evidence from both sides
  • decides how much of the deposit should be returned to the tenant

Once the scheme has all the evidence, it can take 1 month or more for a decision.

You can't use the dispute resolution service unless your landlord or agent agree to this.

You may need to consider court action if your landlord won’t agree to use dispute resolution or the scheme won’t take on your dispute.

If your landlord doesn't respond at all

You may need to follow a different process to get your money back. 

Insurance schemes

You need to:

  • get a court order confirming that the money should be paid to you
  • send the order to the scheme so they can repay your money  

To take court action, you need your landlord's name and address. The process can take several months.

Custodial schemes

You can only use this process if it's been at least 2 weeks since the tenancy ended.

You need to:

  • make a statutory declaration witnessed by a solicitor
  • apply to the scheme to repay your money 

The statutory declaration is a legal document. Contact your scheme for full details of the information that must be included. 

Once the scheme gets your application they give the landlord another 2 weeks to respond. If there's still no response, the scheme should pay your deposit back within 10 days.

How Sophie got her tenancy deposit back

At the end of her tenancy in a shared house the letting agent refused to return Sophie’s £700 deposit until she sent a letter threatening legal action.

Last updated 01 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

How can we improve this advice?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

How can we improve this advice?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.