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What can a landlord keep from your deposit?

Who this guide is for

Our guide can help if you:

  • paid a tenancy deposit to a private landlord or letting agent

  • want to check if it's reasonable for them to make deductions

This guide includes advice on how to avoid your landlord keeping money from your deposit.

The tenancy deposit is your money

Your landlord or agent should refund your full deposit at the end of the tenancy unless they have a reason to make deductions.

The main things are:

  • you should return the property in a similar state to when you moved in

  • any deductions must be reasonable and reflect actual costs to the landlord

  • your landlord cannot keep your deposit for damage caused by fair wear and tear

Landlords and tenants often disagree on what counts as fair wear and tear.

What is fair wear and tear?

Fair wear and tear means changes to a property because of normal everyday living.

It is not the tenant's fault.

Fair wear and tear can include:

  • small scuffs on walls

  • faded curtains or furniture

  • worn flooring or frayed carpets

The deposit protection schemes look at who lives with you and how long you have lived there if you ask them to resolve a dispute about wear and tear.

Example: normal wear and tear in a family home

More wear and tear is allowed for a family with children moving out of a private tenancy after 5 years than for a single person moving out after 6 months.

Last updated: 6 May 2024

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