Challenging deposit deductions

You can dispute unfair deductions from your deposit. Follow these steps to challenge charges.

1. Contact your landlord or agent

Write to tell your landlord or agent that you do not agree with deductions. Set out your evidence and the reasons you do not agree.

Your landlord is responsible for returning your deposit if the agent is no longer operating. This applies even if the agent did not pay the money to the landlord.

Keep copies of emails or letters for yourself and get proof that they were received if you can. For example, send letters recorded delivery.

Letter template: Ask for the rest of your deposit back

Copy this template into an email to your landlord.

[Use the subject: Balance of my deposit]

I am writing to ask you to return the rest of the deposit for [address of property].

I rented the property until [date].

The property was left in good condition and rent was paid until the end of the tenancy.

I paid a deposit of £xxx on [date]. So far only £xxx has been returned to me.

Please pay the outstanding £xxx of my deposit.

If you do not intend to return this money, please explain your reasons in writing. Please list any financial losses you believe you have suffered and enclose relevant evidence including copies of receipts or invoices.

You protected my deposit with [name of scheme]. I propose we use their alternative dispute resolution service if we cannot agree an amount to be returned.

I look forward to your reply within 10 days of receipt of this letter.

You can also download a version to send as a letter:

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 cannot 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 will not use the scheme's dispute service

  • it does not need to be protected but the landlord will not 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: 30 May 2022

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help