How to get your deposit back

Find out how to get your deposit back, what you can do if you don't agree with deductions and what happens if your landlord doesn't respond.

When your tenancy ends

Make sure you:

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.

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

Ask your landlord 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

Your landlord should respond to your request promptly. Chase them up after a week.

If you agree on the amount to be returned

Your landlord may agree to return your deposit in full or they may make deductions that you accept.

You can negotiate with them about deductions to come to an agreement.

What happens next depends on the type of scheme you are in.

There are two types of schemes: custodial and insurance. In custodial schemes the scheme hold the money. In insurance schemes the  landlord or agent holds it, but it is still protected by a scheme.

Custodial schemes

You or your landlord can request the release of the money.

All schemes must return the money within 10 working days. Most say you should get it within about 5 days.

You can request the release of your deposit through your online account. If you’re having problems, you can phone your scheme instead.

Insurance schemes

Your landlord or agent holds your deposit during the tenancy if it's protected with an insurance scheme. Request the return of the money from your landlord when you come to an agreement.

They can return it to you by bank transfer, in cash or by cheque.

If you have a preference, tell your landlord. They don’t have to do it in a certain way, but they shouldn’t inconvenience you for no reason.

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

If you don’t agree with your landlord’s deductions

Your landlord should 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 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 should tell your landlord you plan to use the service. They may try and solve the situation before the formal process goes ahead.

Use Shelter's template letter to negotiate about deposit deductions

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.

Custodial schemes

You need to start a process known as a single claim. You can only start this if it has been 2 weeks since you requested the money via the scheme.

Statutory declaration forms

Each scheme has a different process for starting a single claim. They will send you a form called a statutory declaration. You need to fill this out and have a solicitor witness you sign it.


You can use a high street solicitor to witness the signature. They should only charge around £5 for this service.

Getting the money back

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.

If your landlord gets in touch with the scheme at any time during the single claim process it will be referred to the dispute resolution scheme.

If they get in touch and refuse to use dispute resolution you need to start court action.

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.

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 23 Aug 2019 | © Shelter

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