Joint tenants: how to get your deposit back

Find out how to deal with deposit problems at the end of a joint tenancy.

Ask for your deposit to be returned

Your first step is to ask your landlord or agent to return the deposit.

You can negotiate if they want to make deductions.

Check your deposit is protected

Your money must be protected with a scheme if you had an assured shorthold tenancy.

There are 3 deposit protection scheme providers.

Each provider runs an insurance scheme and a custodial scheme.

You may be able to claim compensation if your deposit is unprotected. All the joint tenants would have to agree to claim.

If your landlord agrees to return the deposit

The process is different depending on whether your deposit is protected with an insurance scheme or a custodial scheme.

Insurance schemes

Your landlord or agent holds the deposit during the tenancy. They must return it once the tenancy has ended.

You can ask for your share to be returned to you individually.

You don't need to contact the scheme if your landlord returns your deposit.

Custodial schemes

The scheme holds the deposit during the tenancy. 

Once the landlord and lead tenant confirm that the deposit should be released, the scheme must return it within 10 days.

The lead tenant is responsible for contacting the scheme. Sometimes they are also responsible for paying the other joint tenants their share when the deposit is returned.

The lead tenant could be the:

  • person chosen as the lead tenant when you signed your agreement
  • first joint tenant to contact the scheme during or after the tenancy

Each scheme has an online process for the return of your deposit.

If your landlord wants to make deductions

You can use the scheme’s dispute resolution service to challenge deductions.

Usually the lead tenant has to raise the dispute. Some schemes allow any of the joint tenants to raise a dispute with the agreement of the others.

You are jointly liable for arrears and damage. Your landlord can withhold money from the whole deposit even if another tenant is responsible.

Disputes between tenants

Deposit schemes can’t help with disputes between tenants.

This includes disagreements about how the money is shared or if the lead tenant refuses to pay back your share.

If there is a dispute you can:

  • ask your landlord to confirm that the deposit was paid to the lead tenant
  • write to the lead tenant to ask them to pay you your share

If they still refuse to repay the money you can apply to the small claims court.

If only some joint tenants want to leave

Make sure you end your joint tenancy correctly if you want to leave but other tenants want to stay.

If a new tenant takes your place, it’s best that they pay their deposit direct to the landlord when agreeing a new tenancy. The landlord can then pay you your share of the deposit.

If no one else is moving in, you can:

  • ask the landlord to accept a smaller deposit and refund your share
  • ask the remaining tenants to make up the difference and refund your share

Last updated 03 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

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

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.