Paying a deposit for a joint tenancy
Find out who to pay your deposit to and how the protection schemes deal with deposits paid by joint tenants.
When you start a joint tenancy
You often pay a single deposit to the landlord or agent before you all move in.
This is usually treated as one deposit for the whole tenancy. But you can ask to have your individual payments recorded on the tenancy agreement.
The landlord can make deductions from the whole deposit at the end of the tenancy even if only one of you has caused damage or failed to pay rent.
A tenancy deposit is different from a holding deposit which you pay to reserve a property.
Ask for an inventory
Always get a detailed inventory which shows the condition of each room and shared areas at the start.
Take pictures and videos of all areas and any existing damage.
Tenancy deposit protection
Your deposit must be protected with a scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private renters have this type of tenancy.
Your landlord might protect each share of the deposit in separate names if you ask them to but they don't have to do this.
A deposit paid by joint tenants is usually protected as a single deposit. The schemes ask for a 'lead tenant' as a named contact when this happens.
Choosing a lead tenant
The lead tenant is normally responsible for:
contacting the deposit protection scheme
raising disputes about deductions from the deposit
Sometimes they are also responsible for repaying the other joint tenants when the deposit is returned.
You can choose a lead tenant between yourselves when you pay the deposit. Ask the landlord or agent to protect the deposit in that person's name.
If you don’t decide on a lead tenant, your landlord might choose one or the scheme might only deal with the first tenant to contact them.
If you join an existing tenancy
If you replace another tenant in an existing joint tenancy, you will normally pay your share of the deposit to the landlord or agent.
Make sure your name and the amount you have paid are recorded:
on the tenancy agreement
with the deposit protection scheme
The best option is to sign a new contract which names you as a joint tenant. You can ask for a new inventory before you sign.
Your landlord or agent must make sure the deposit for the new contract is protected within 30 days from when you paid.
Paying your deposit to an outgoing tenant
This is not usually a good idea but it does happen in practice.
Only pay your deposit to an outgoing tenant if you've:
been given written information to confirm your deposit is protected
checked this with the scheme
Getting your deposit back
Last updated: 21 August 2019