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How to get your deposit back

Evidence for a deposit dispute

Your deposit protection scheme asks for evidence if you raise a dispute.

The scheme decides if you should get your full deposit back or if your landlord can keep some. They look at evidence from your landlord and from you.

You do not need to send the evidence until the scheme asks for it.

Get as much evidence as you can together to show why you should get your deposit back.

Check what a landlord can keep from your deposit.

How to raise a dispute

You can do this through your scheme's website:

0300 and 0333 numbers are not free to call but might be included in mobile packages.

Inventories and check out reports

Find your inventory and report from your check out inspection.

Compare your inventory from when you moved in with the check out report.

Make notes of any changes. This could help you show why you think your landlord is wrong to charge you for things.

Be there at the check out inspection if you can. Go round with the agent to make sure they note things down properly.

Tell the scheme if:

  • you were not there at the inspection

  • your landlord did the check out inspection themselves.

The scheme might consider that a check done by your landlord is not as reliable as one done by someone else. For example, an independent inventory clerk.

Do not worry if the landlord did not do a check out inspection or inventory.

A landlord needs to show proof of the property's condition at the start and end of your tenancy if they want to keep money for damage or cleaning charges.

The deposit schemes consider check out reports and inventories as good evidence. They are likely to reject a landlord or agent's claim if they do not have these.


Make a video on the day you move out. A video could show the exact condition you left the property in.

You can explain any visible issues as you are filming. For example:

  • normal wear and tear - say how long you have lived there

  • things that did not work or were broken before you moved in

  • damage because the landlord took too long to fix a problem you reported

You could film the meter readings too so there is evidence of final utility bills.

Keep your video short and factual.

If you have photos or videos from when you moved in, they could show what the property looked like and if there have been changes.


Explain what the photos show. For example:

  • what room or area they show

  • when they were taken

  • what they prove

The schemes prefer digital photos because they can check the dates and they are often clearer. Make sure you say when a photo was taken if you have to send printed photos.

Letters and emails

Emails and letters between you and the landlord can show things like:

  • how much notice you gave to end the tenancy

  • repair problems during the tenancy and how quickly they were dealt with

This helps the scheme to work out what should happen to the deposit.

Statements from others

Statements from other people can be useful. They are sometimes called 'witness statements'.

For example, a contractor, neighbour or previous tenant could write a letter. They could say there were problems before you moved in and that you did not cause the problems.

The scheme will not contact other people to ask more questions. But they will look at any written witness statements you send them.

Example of how good evidence can help

Maryam has lived in her rented home for 5 years.

The carpet was new when she moved in. She took photos and it says this on the inventory.

At the check out inspection, the agent notes on the report that the living room carpet 'looks worn'. They say the landlord will decide if they want to charge for this.

Maryam asks them to write on the report that it looks like normal wear and tear. The agent records this under 'tenant comments'.

On the day she moves out, Maryam makes a video of the property. She films the carpet. It is clean but a bit worn near the doorway. She says she has lived there for 5 years.

The next day the agent emails to say the landlord wants to keep £300 from her deposit to replace the carpet.

Maryam suggests using the deposit scheme's dispute resolution service.

The inventories, photos and video could all be good evidence of normal wear and tear if the landlord does not give her deposit back in full.

Last updated: 9 May 2024