What to do about an unprotected tenancy deposit

If your landlord or agent has not protected your deposit correctly, it's harder for them to evict you and you can claim compensation.

Protection from eviction

Your landlord cannot use the section 21 eviction process if either your deposit:

  • is unprotected

  • was protected more than 30 days after the start of your most recent contract

Your landlord can only give you a valid section 21 notice in this situation if they return your deposit first.

They must also give you written information about the deposit before they can give you a section 21 notice.

Claim compensation

You can claim compensation from your landlord or agent if they failed to:

  • protect your deposit within 30 days of you paying it

  • give you written information about the scheme within 30 days

  • keep the deposit protected during your tenancy

The 30 days runs from when you paid your deposit, even if you signed your tenancy in advance and it didn't start until a later date. 

When to make a claim

You can claim compensation during your tenancy or after it ends.

You have 6 years to claim from the date the rules were broken.

It's best to wait until your tenancy ends before starting legal action.

This is because your landlord may be able to give you a valid section 21 notice once the court has looked at your compensation claim.

You should only consider claiming while you're still a tenant if:

  • you paid your deposit over 5 years ago

  • you understand the risk of section 21 eviction

If you paid your deposit before 6 April 2012, different deadlines applied for protection. But it may be too late to claim even if the rules were broken.

How much you can ask for

You can ask for between 1 and 3 times the deposit amount.

The court looks at how the landlord or agent has behaved.

For example, the court might award less compensation if the:

  • landlord protected the deposit as soon as they realised their mistake

  • deposit was protected on time and it was only the written information that was late

If your tenancy has not ended, the court will normally order your landlord to protect your deposit in a scheme.

If there are other problems in your tenancy

You may be able to negotiate with your landlord if you're considering claiming compensation. 

For example, your landlord or agent might:

Get legal advice

You do not need a solicitor but it's a good idea to get legal advice if you can.

You cannot get legal aid for a compensation claim but there may be other ways to get free legal advice.

A solicitor might take the case on under a conditional fee agreement - often described as 'no win no fee'.

Make sure you understand any fees or costs you'll have to pay before you sign any agreement.

Last updated: 21 August 2019

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