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What can a landlord keep from your deposit?

Leaving early or breaking your tenancy agreement

Your landlord can keep money from your deposit if you break the agreement and this costs them money. They can only keep what it has cost them.

Your landlord should not keep your deposit:

  • unless your actions cost them money

  • if the tenancy term you have broken is unfair

Example: 'No pets' clauses

Your landlord cannot keep your money just because they find out you had a pet.

But they can take money from your deposit if your pet causes damage.

Leaving a fixed term tenancy early

If you leave without agreement or do not use a break clause, you are still responsible for rent.

Your landlord could keep your deposit to cover rent until either:

  • the fixed term ends and all tenants leave

  • new tenants move in under a new agreement

If your deposit does not cover the unpaid rent they could take court action.

Leaving by the last day of a fixed term

Some tenancy agreements say you must give notice or the tenancy will become a periodic tenancy when the fixed term ends.

You should give notice if you see a term like this in your agreement and intend to leave. Your landlord might want to keep your deposit if you do not give notice.

If you did not see or understand the term you could argue that it is unfair.

Some very old court cases decided that tenants can leave on the last day without notice. This is sometimes called 'common law' and you can say that this applies.

Many tenants can leave by the last day of the fixed term without giving a legal notice.

You should still let your landlord know you're leaving if you want your deposit back on time.

Leaving a rolling tenancy without notice

You can end a rolling or periodic tenancy either:

  • by agreement with your landlord

  • with a tenant's 'notice to quit'

You should do this before you move out but you can also do it after you leave.

You are responsible for paying rent until your tenancy ends legally.

You will probably lose some or all of your deposit if you leave without ending your tenancy.

If your landlord agrees to let you leave early or at short notice, make sure you get this in writing so that everyone is clear when the tenancy ends.

Still need help?

The deposit protection schemes offer free dispute resolution if you cannot agree the return of your deposit with your landlord or agent.

Last updated: 6 May 2024