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Joint tenancies

How to get your deposit back

Speak to the other tenants before you take any action on your own.

If everyone wants to move out

Ask the landlord to repay you the deposit as soon as you end your joint tenancy.

You can negotiate if they want to keep your money.

You are jointly liable for arrears and damage. Your landlord can withhold money from the whole deposit even if another tenant is responsible.

If the other tenants want to stay

It can be more difficult to get your deposit back if you have different plans. For example, if only one person wants to leave.

You must end a joint tenancy correctly if you want to leave but other tenants want to stay.

If a new tenant takes your place, it’s best that they pay their deposit to the landlord when agreeing a new tenancy. The landlord can then return your share of the deposit to you.

If nobody else is moving in, you can:

  • ask the landlord to accept a smaller deposit and refund your share

  • ask the remaining tenants to make up the difference and refund your share

Deposits protected in a scheme

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord must protect your deposit in a scheme.

Your deposit must remain protected during your tenancy.

It should not take long to get your money back if there is no dispute about deductions.

If your deposit is protected in an insurance scheme, your landlord can just return it and tell the scheme they have done this.

It can take up to 10 days to release the deposit if your deposit is in a custodial scheme.

If your landlord wants to make deductions

You can use the scheme’s dispute resolution service to challenge unfair deductions.

Usually the lead tenant has to raise the dispute. Some schemes allow any of the joint tenants to raise a dispute with the agreement of the others.

Disagreements between tenants

Deposit schemes cannot help with disputes between tenants.

This includes disagreements about how the money is shared or if the lead tenant refuses to pay back your share.

You could have different amounts refunded if:

  • the deposit scheme returns specific amounts to each tenant

  • all joint tenants agree how much will be refunded to each person  

  • the lead tenant received the deposit and divided it between the other tenants

Check if your tenancy agreement says anything about your share of the deposit.

If the lead tenant does not return your share

All joint tenants should know where the deposit is protected. But the scheme can ask for one tenant to be named as the main contact.

If the lead tenant does not return your deposit, you can:

  • ask the scheme to confirm that the deposit was repaid to the lead tenant

  • write to the lead tenant to ask them to pay you your share

If they still refuse to repay the money you can apply to the small claims court.

If there's a relationship breakdown

You may not be able to get your deposit money back straight away if you're the one moving out. This depends on whether the joint tenancy ends for everyone.

You can ask the landlord or the person who is staying to repay your share to you. They do not have to agree to do this even if you move out.

What to do if your deposit was not protected

You can go to court to claim compensation if your deposit is not protected properly at the start, during, or at the end of your tenancy.

With a joint deposit, all joint tenants must agree to take action.

Your landlord might agree to a refund to avoid court action if they have broken the rules.

Last updated: 26 November 2023

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