How to make a tenancy deposit compensation claim

Follow these steps to claim compensation if your tenancy deposit wasn't protected correctly.

1. Check you can claim compensation

You can ask for compensation if your landlord or agent failed to do any of the following:

  • protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it
  • give you written information within 30 days
  • keep your deposit protected throughout the tenancy

2. Get legal advice

You don't need a solicitor to make a claim. It's a good idea to get legal advice if you can.

You can't get legal aid for a deposit claim but there may be other ways to get free legal advice.

A solicitor might take the case on under a conditional fee agreement - sometimes called 'no win no fee'.

Make sure you understand any fees or costs you'll have to pay before you sign any agreement.

3. Gather evidence to support your case

You'll need evidence such as:

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement
  • the receipt or confirmation you paid your deposit
  • letters to and from your landlord
  • records of rent payments
  • printouts of your searches on the tenancy deposit protection websites

4. Send a letter before action

Before you start a court claim for compensation, you must send your landlord a formal 'letter before action'.  This letter must set out the detail of your claim.

Use the appropriate template letter for your situation:

Claim compensation after your tenancy ends

Claim compensation while you are still a tenant

Claim compensation and the return of your full tenancy deposit

Claim compensation and the return of part of your tenancy deposit

Your landlord or agent may offer to settle your claim after they receive a letter before action to avoid legal costs.

5. Apply to the court

You don't have to use a solicitor to make an application to the court for a deposit compensation claim. 

Complete the form

Complete form N208 from HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

There is guidance attached on how to complete the form.

You'll need to fill out 3 copies of the form: one for you, one for the court and one for the landlord. 

You will also need 3 copies of the defendants notes for guidance

Download the forms or pick them up from your local county court.

Find your local county court using the GOV.UK court finder.

You can claim interest on the amount of your deposit you are owed, starting from the date it should have been returned. You must ask for this on the claim form.

Attach your evidence

Attach copies of all relevant documents to each of the 3 claim forms.

These might include:

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement
  • evidence that you paid a deposit and when it was paid
  • letters and emails to and from your landlord about your deposit
  • details of enquiries you made with the tenancy deposit schemes

Send in the forms

Send the forms, defendants notes and evidence to your local county court.

The case may be transferred to a court closer to the landlord or agent.

Find your local county court using the GOV.UK court finder.

Pay court fees

You have to pay a court fee of £308 to start your claim. You can claim this back from your landlord if you win your case. You won't get it back if you lose.

You can apply for a fee reduction or exemption if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.

6. Consider any offer to settle

The court will send your landlord a copy of your completed claim form.

Your landlord could decide to

  • agree with your claim and pay in full or in part
  • make you an offer to settle

If your landlord makes an offer you're happy with, you can withdraw your claim on condition that your landlord pays the amount agreed plus your court fee.

You should supply the court with a 'consent order'. This is a document you both sign to confirm what's agreed.

Some courts charge a fee for a consent order. You can ask your landlord to cover this fee as part of your agreement.

Use our template draft consent order

If you withdraw your case without a consent order you won't get a refund of your court fee and may have to pay your landlord's legal costs.

If you refuse a reasonable offer and proceed with a court hearing, the judge could order you to pay some of your landlord's costs for attending court

7. Prepare for court

You'll need to prepare for a court hearing if your landlord:

  • doesn't respond to the court within the time allowed
  • disagrees with your claim and decides to challenge it in court

You'll be given a deadline for providing evidence to the court. This is usually at least 14 days before the hearing. 

Make sure you follow all of the court's instructions and time limits they set.

Counterclaims

Your landlord or agent may send the court their defence along with details of any counterclaim. The court should send you a copy of these documents.

Your landlord may counterclaim for unpaid rent, missing items or damage you have caused. This could be more than you paid as a tenancy deposit.

If a counterclaim is made, you may also need to send the court more evidence, such as:

  • a copy of your inventory and photographs of the property
  • receipts for items you've repaired or replaced
  • bank statements to show rent payments

8. Go to court

You can represent yourself at the court hearing if you don't have a solicitor. Your landlord may be represented by a solicitor.

The judge will ask questions based on the evidence provided and make a decision about your claim for compensation.

If you win

If you win the case, the court will decide how much your landlord should pay you and set a deadline for payment.

If your landlord doesn't pay, leaflet EX321 explains what you can do to get your money.

If you lose your case

The court may ask you to pay your landlord's legal costs.


Last updated 01 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

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