How to get your deposit back

Make sure you:

  • attend any checkout inspection

  • get your landlord or agent's contact details 

  • check which scheme your deposit is protected with 

Your landlord doesn't have to protect your deposit if you're a lodger. You can consider court action if your landlord won't return your money.

Ask your landlord for the money

Copy this text into an email to your landlord or letting agent:

Template email

Email heading: Deposit refund request for write the property address

I am the former tenant/lodger [delete one] of the above address.

I'm writing to ask you to refund the tenancy deposit I paid to you on write the date you paid.

The property has been left in good order and the rent was fully paid.

Please refund the full write the amount ££ within 10 days of receiving this email.

Thank you.

Write your name and phone number

Download the template

You can also download the template as a letter to ask for your deposit back (DOC 20KB).

Your landlord should respond quickly. Chase them up after a week.

If you agree on the amount

Your landlord may agree to return your full deposit or you may agree about deductions.

What happens next depends on the type of scheme you are in.

There are 2 types of schemes: custodial and insurance.

In custodial schemes the scheme hold the money.

In insurance schemes the landlord or agent holds it, but it is still protected by a scheme.

Custodial schemes

You or your landlord can ask for the money to be released.

All schemes must return the money within 10 working days. Most say you should get it in about 5 days.

You can use your online account to ask for your deposit. Phone your scheme if you have problems.

Insurance schemes

Your landlord or agent holds your deposit during the tenancy if it's protected with an insurance scheme.

They can return it by bank transfer, in cash or by cheque.

If you have a preference, tell your landlord. They don’t have to do it in a certain way, but they should not make things hard for you.

Your deposit should be returned in a reasonable time, for example 10 days.

If you don’t agree with deductions

Your landlord should return the amount they think you’re entitled to.

You can accept this payment. It does not mean you've agreed to the deductions.

Use the scheme's dispute resolution service

You can challenge deductions through the scheme if you think they're unfair.

Each deposit protection scheme has a free dispute resolution service that:

  • looks at evidence from both sides

  • decides how much of the deposit should be returned to you

Once the scheme has all the evidence, it can take 1 month or more for a decision.

You cannot use the dispute resolution service unless your landlord or agent agree to this.

Tell your landlord you plan to use the service. They may try and solve the situation before the formal process goes ahead.

You may need to consider court action if your landlord won’t agree to use dispute resolution or the scheme won’t take on your dispute.

If your landlord doesn't respond

You may need to follow a different process to get your money back.

Custodial schemes

You need to start a process known as a single claim. You can only start this if it has been 2 weeks since you asked for the money via the scheme.

Statutory declaration forms

Each scheme has a different way to start a single claim.

They send you a form called a statutory declaration. Fill this out and have a solicitor witness you sign it.

You can use a high street solicitor to witness the signature. They should only charge around £5.

Getting the money back

Once the scheme gets your application they give the landlord another 2 weeks to respond.

If there's still no response, the scheme should pay your deposit back within 10 days.

If your landlord gets in touch with the scheme at any time during the single claim process it will be referred to the dispute resolution scheme.

If they get in touch and refuse to use dispute resolution you need to start court action.

Insurance schemes

You need to:

  • get a court order confirming the money should be paid to you

  • send the order to the scheme so they can repay your money

To take court action, you need your landlord's name and address. The process can take several months.

How Sophie got her tenancy deposit back

At the end of her tenancy in a shared house the letting agent refused to return Sophie’s £700 deposit until she sent a letter threatening legal action.

Last updated: 13 March 2022

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