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Disputes about return of tenancy deposits from protection schemes

Tenancy deposits disputes can be resolved through the scheme's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service or the courts.

This content applies to England

Return of tenancy deposit at the end of tenancy 

At the end of the tenancy, the landlord and the tenant need to agree if either:

  • the deposit is returned in full to the tenant

  • the deposit is retained in full by the landlord

  • part of the deposit is returned to the tenant, and part is retained by the landlord

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

If the landlord and the tenant cannot agree on the amount of deposit to be returned or retained, they can use the scheme's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. 

The tenant must formally request the return of the deposit from the landlord (if the deposit is retained under an insurance scheme) or scheme administrator (if the deposit is retained under a custodial scheme) before the ADR service can be engaged.

Each tenancy deposit protection scheme has an ADR service for resolving disputes about the return of a deposit without having to go to court.[1] However, use of the ADR service is voluntary and cannot be made compulsory by the scheme.[2]

The landlord and tenant must consent to the use of ADR. In some circumstances consent is treated as given, for example when one of them is missing or uncooperative.

If either the landlord or tenant do not consent to use of the ADR service, then the deposit should be recovered through the courts.

Recovery of deposit through the courts

If the court makes an order, the scheme must return the deposit to the landlord or tenant in line with the order.[3] It is important that the court order specifically refers to the deposit and the scheme administrator in which it is protected, and it includes a direction as to the amounts to be repaid to each party, otherwise repayment could be delayed until the order is amended or a separate debt order is obtained.

Last updated: 18 March 2021


  • [1]

    para 10(1), Sch.10 Housing Act 2004.

  • [2]

    para 10(2), Sch.10 Housing Act 2004.

  • [3]

    paras 4(4)-(5) and 6(4)-(5), Sch.10 Housing Act 2004.