Make a tenancy deposit compensation claim
Follow these steps to claim compensation if your tenancy deposit was not protected correctly.
1. Check you can claim compensation
You can ask for compensation if your landlord or agent broke the tenancy deposit rules.
You could receive 1 to 3 times the deposit amount if they failed to:
protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it
give you written information within 30 days
keep your deposit protected throughout the tenancy
If you cannot claim compensation
Your landlord should still return your deposit when your tenancy ends.
2. Get legal advice
You do not need a solicitor to make a claim but it's a good idea to get legal advice if you can.
You cannot usually get legal aid for a deposit claim unless you're claiming as part of a defence if your landlord's trying to evict you for rent arrears. There may be other ways to get free legal advice.
A solicitor might take the case on under a conditional fee agreement - sometimes called 'no win no fee'.
Make sure you understand any fees or costs you'll have to pay before you sign any agreement.
3. Gather evidence to support your case
You'll need evidence such as:
a copy of your tenancy agreement
the receipt or confirmation you paid your deposit
letters to and from your landlord
records of rent payments
printouts of your searches on the tenancy deposit protection websites
4. Send a letter before court action
Before you start a court claim for compensation, you must send a formal 'letter before action' to your landlord and their letting agent. This letter must set out the detail of your claim.
Your landlord or agent may offer to settle your claim after they receive a letter before action to avoid legal costs.
5. Apply to the court
You do not have to use a solicitor to make an application to the court for a deposit compensation claim.
Complete the form
You need to use form N208 and read the guidance on GOV.UK
You'll need to fill out 3 copies of the form: one for you, one for the court and one for the landlord.
Download the forms or pick them up from your local county court.
You can claim interest on the amount of your deposit you are owed, starting from the date it should have been returned. You must ask for this on the claim form.
Attach your evidence
Attach copies of all relevant documents to each of the 3 claim forms.
These might include:
a copy of your tenancy agreement
evidence that you paid a deposit and when it was paid
letters and emails to and from your landlord about your deposit
details of enquiries you made with the tenancy deposit schemes
Send in the forms
Send the forms, defendants notes and evidence to your local county court.
The case may be transferred to a court closer to the landlord or agent.
Pay court fees
You have to pay a court fee of £332 to start your claim. You can claim this back from your landlord if you win your case. You will not get it back if you lose.
You can apply for a fee reduction or exemption if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.
6. Consider any offer to settle
The court will send your landlord a copy of your completed claim form.
Your landlord could decide to
agree with your claim and pay in full or in part
make you an offer to settle
If your landlord makes an offer you're happy with, you can withdraw your claim on condition that your landlord pays the amount agreed plus your court fee.
You should supply the court with a 'consent order'. This is a document you both sign to confirm what's agreed.
Some courts charge a fee for a consent order. You can ask your landlord to cover this fee as part of your agreement.
If you withdraw your case without a consent order you will not get a refund of your court fee and may have to pay your landlord's legal costs.
If you refuse a reasonable offer and proceed with a court hearing, the judge could order you to pay some of your landlord's costs for attending court
7. Prepare for court
You'll need to prepare for a court hearing if your landlord:
does not respond to the court within the time allowed
disagrees with your claim and decides to challenge it in court
You'll be given a deadline for providing evidence to the court. This is usually at least 14 days before the hearing.
Make sure you follow all of the court's instructions and time limits they set.
Your landlord or agent may send the court their defence along with details of any counterclaim. The court should send you a copy of these documents.
Your landlord may counterclaim for unpaid rent, missing items or damage you have caused. This could be more than you paid as a tenancy deposit.
If a counterclaim is made, you may also need to send the court more evidence, such as:
a copy of your inventory and photographs of the property
receipts for items you've repaired or replaced
bank statements to show rent payments
8. Go to court
You can represent yourself at the court hearing if you do not have a solicitor. Your landlord may be represented by a solicitor.
The judge will ask questions based on the evidence provided and make a decision about your claim for compensation.
If you win
If you win the case, the court will decide how much your landlord should pay you and set a deadline for payment.
If your landlord does not pay, leaflet EX321 explains what you can do to get your money.
If you lose your case
The court may ask you to pay your landlord's legal costs.
Last updated: 20 March 2023