Challenging deposit deductions

There are different ways you can dispute unfair deductions from your deposit. Follow these steps to challenge charges.

1. Contact your landlord or agent

Set out your evidence and the reasons you don't agree with deductions from your deposit in writing.

Keep copies for yourself and get proof that they were received if you can.

Use Shelter's template letter to challenge deductions from your deposit

2. Raise a dispute with your deposit scheme

Your deposit should be protected with a deposit protection scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Each scheme has a free dispute resolution service which you and your landlord can choose to use if you can't agree over the return of your deposit.

You need to: 

  • raise the dispute usually through the scheme's website
  • submit evidence within the scheme's deadline
  • wait for the scheme to decide what happens to the deposit

You usually only have one chance to submit your evidence.

Check the scheme's online information about evidence and time limits before you start.

What happens once the scheme has your evidence?

The scheme looks at all the evidence to decide how much of the deposit should be returned to you.

It usually takes at least 1 month for a decision and it could be longer.

The scheme's decision is final. There is no further review process.

3. Consider court action

You may need to take court action to get your deposit back if either:

  • it's protected but your landlord won't use the scheme's dispute service
  • it doesn't need to be protected but the landlord won't return it

You can claim compensation if your landlord has broken deposit protection rules. The court can also look at how much of the deposit should be returned to you.

Court action takes time and you usually have to pay a fee to start a claim.

Your landlord might return your money to avoid court action if you have a good case.


Last updated 01 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

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