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How to get your tenancy deposit protected

Rent deposit money paid to a landlord to cover unpaid rent or damage should be protected by a tenancy deposit scheme.

1. Ask your landlord to protect your deposit

You pay a tenancy deposit to a landlord in case you damage the property you are renting or leave without paying all the rent.

Your landlord has a legal duty to protect your tenancy deposit if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. Most renters have this tenancy type. 

Your landlord usually has 30 days from when you pay your deposit to protect it with a tenancy deposit protection scheme and to provide you with information about the scheme used. (Different time limits apply to tenancy deposits paid before 6 April 2012).

Email, call or ask your landlord in person if they've done this and which tenancy deposit protection scheme they are using. You can ask your landlord's letting agent instead if they're dealing with tenancy deposit issues on behalf of your landlord.

Your landlord doesn't have to protect your deposit if you are a lodger.

2. Send a letter

Landlords usually have 30 days to protect your tenancy deposit after they receive it. This applies to renters with an assured shorthold tenancy, the most common tenancy type. 

(Different time limits apply to tenancy deposits paid before 6 April 2012).

You can ask your landlord to protect your deposit even if they have missed the deadline. It's better for your landlord to protect your deposit late than not at all. Most landlords will protect a tenancy deposit when they're asked. 

Send a letter or email asking your landlord to protect your tenancy deposit: 

Use Shelter's template letter to ask your landlord to protect your tenancy deposit.

Send a polite reminder if you think it will help your negotiations:

Use Shelter's template letter to ask your landlord again to protect your tenancy deposit.

You can send the letter or email your landlord's letting agent if they are dealing with tenancy deposit issues on behalf of your landlord.

Your landlord doesn't have to protect your deposit if you are a lodger.

3. Check if it's been protected 

Have these details ready: rental property postcode, tenancy start date, tenancy deposit amount, tenant's name.

There are 3 tenancy deposit scheme providers. 

Use their websites to check if your deposit is protected by them:

The Dispute Service (TDS) 

The Deposit Protection Service (TDPS)

mydeposits.co.uk

Tenancy deposits paid to Capita Tenancy Deposit Service were transferred to mydeposits.

Your landlord should provide you with information saying which tenancy deposit protection scheme they've used to protect it. Your landlord's letting agent may provide this information instead.

4. Threaten court action 

The court can order your landlord to protect your tenancy deposit and pay you compensation if your landlord missed the 30 day deadline for protecting your deposit.

You can threaten court action if your landlord ignores your requests to protect your tenancy deposit. To do this, you'll have to send your landlord a legal letter called a letter before action. 

After receiving your letter before action, your landlord may decide to protect your deposit. Your landlord may offer to settle the case and pay you compensation.

Your letter before action should:

  • give the landlord a deadline to respond – allow at least 14 days
  • set out the legal arguments you would use in court
  • include details of any claim for compensation
  • provide evidence to back up your case such as copies of letters and emails

Use Shelter's template letter before action to get your deposit protected.

Send this letter by recorded delivery or get proof of posting.

5. Take your landlord to court

If you start court action while you are still living in the property, the court can order your landlord to both: 

  • protect your tenancy deposit
  • pay you compensation

If you wait until after your tenancy has ended and you've left, the court can order your landlord to both:

  • return your tenancy deposit 
  • pay you compensation

Tenancy deposit compensation will be between 1 and 3 times the amount of your deposit.

Find out more about court action to get your deposit returned or protected.

Last updated 30 Jun 2016 | © Shelter

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