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Tenancy deposit compensation claims

If your landlord breaks tenancy deposit rules, a court can order them to protect or return your tenancy deposit and pay you compensation.

1. Check if you can claim compensation

You can take court action to claim compensation if your landlord breaks tenancy deposit protection rules. These only apply if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

You can make a claim for compensation during your tenancy or after it ends.

Compensation

You can claim compensation of 1 to 3 times the amount of your tenancy deposit if your landlord:

  • doesn't protect your tenancy deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme
  • doesn't give you certain information about the scheme being used
  • takes too long to protect your deposit or give you prescribed information

Find out more about the tenancy deposit protection rules your landlord should follow.

Protection of your tenancy deposit

If your tenancy hasn't ended, you can also ask the court to order your landlord to protect your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Sometimes the court will order your landlord to return your deposit instead.

Refund of your tenancy deposit

You can ask the court to order your landlord to refund your tenancy deposit (providing it hasn't already been returned).

Risk of taking action during your tenancy

Your landlord may be less likely to renew your tenancy if you take court action while still living in the property. If they haven't protected your tenancy deposit, they'll face restrictions on their right to evict you.

Where to get help and advice

You can take court action without the help of a solicitor. A housing adviser can help you prepare your case.

You can't get legal aid to help with a court case for tenancy deposit compensation.

2. 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
  • print out of your searches on the tenancy deposit protection websites

3. Send a letter before action

Before you start a court claim, you must send your landlord a formal 'letter before action'.

Many landlords agree to settle your claim after they receive a letter before action.

You can take court action against a letting agent if they manage your tenancy deposit on behalf of your landlord.

Letter to claim compensation and the return of all your tenancy deposit

Use this letter after you have moved out if your landlord:

  • didn't return any of your deposit
  • didn't protect your deposit or protected it too late

Use Shelter's template letter to warn your landlord that you'll go to court if they don't compensate you and refund your deposit.

Letter to claim compensation and the return of part of your tenancy deposit

Use this letter after you have moved out if your landlord:

  • only returned part of your deposit
  • didn't protect your deposit or protected it too late

Use Shelter's template letter to warn your landlord that you'll go to court if they don't compensate you and refund the rest of your deposit.

Letter to claim compensation while you are still a tenant

Use Shelter's template letter to to tell your landlord that you'll go to court if they don't compensate you.

Letter to claim compensation after your tenancy ends

Use Shelter's template letter to to tell your former landlord that you'll go to court if they don't compensate you.

4. Apply to the court

You don't have to use a solicitor to make an application to the court for a tenancy deposit claim. You can ask a housing adviser for advice if you need further advice or help with the process.

You may have to pay your landlord's costs if you lose the case.

Complete a form

Apply to your local county court using Form N208 from HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

If you prefer, you can pick up a form at your local county court. Find your local county court using the Ministry of Justice court finder.

Find guidance to complete Form 208A at HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

Pay court fees

You have to pay a court fee of £308 to start your claim, but can claim it back from your landlord if you win your case. You lose the court fee if you don't win.

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

Find out more from Gov.uk about court fees.

Provide the court with documents

Attach copies of all the relevant documents to your claim form, such as:

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement
  • evidence that you paid a tenancy 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
  • photos showing the condition of the property

Claim for interest

If you are claiming a refund of your tenancy deposit, you can also make a claim for interest from the date your deposit should have been returned. You must ask for this on your claim form.

5. Consider an offer to settle

Before a court hearing can happen, the court will send your landlord a copy of your completed claim form and a defence 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 you an offer that you are happy to accept, you can withdraw your court case on condition that your landlord pays the amount agreed plus your court fee.

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

Use our template draft consent order

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

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

6. Prepare for the court hearing

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 all the evidence to the court. This is usually at least 14 days before the hearing.

You'll need to send in any important documents you haven't already provided and a signed short statement setting out the history of what's happened.

Your landlord should send you and the court a copy of their defence along with details of any counterclaim. Your landlord may counterclaim for unpaid rent, missing items or damage you have caused. This could be for more than you paid as a tenancy deposit.

You may also need to send in:

  • a copy of your inventory and photographs of the property
  • receipts for items you've repaired or replaced
  • written statements from any witnesses (such as a health visitor or support worker who can confirm the state of the property when you moved in)

7. Attend the court hearing

You can represent yourself at the court hearing. You don't have to 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 the case, the court will decide how much your landlord should pay you and set a deadline for payment.

Amount of compensation

The court decides the amount you can get.

Compensation can be for 1 to 3 times the value of your tenancy deposit.

The court may award a higher level of compensation if:

  • you have a professional landlord
  • a letting agent manages the property
  • the deposit was never protected

The court may award a lower level if the deposit was protected a little late.

8. Decide on action after the hearing

If you win but your landlord doesn't pay

Ask the court for leaflet EX321 if you win a court hearing but your landlord doesn't pay. This explains what you can do to get your money.

Find leaflet EX321 at HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

If you lose your case

If the court's decides not to award you compensation, the only way to challenge the decision is to appeal.

Get legal advice to find out if you have a reason to appeal.


Last updated 30 Jun 2016 | © Shelter


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