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 did not pay rent. It means everyone could receive less deposit money back.

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.

The lead tenant is the person who the scheme will contact when the tenancy ends.

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.

Sometimes only the lead tenant gets written information about where the deposit is protected so check with them if you're unsure.

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

Search under the lead tenant's name when you check your deposit is protected.

Getting your deposit back

Last updated: 21 August 2019

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