How to – Get your tenancy deposit back!

4 min read
August 08, 2019

Can your landlord really take that money off your deposit?

Whether you’re starting a new tenancy or about to move out, your deposit is probably on your mind. We’ve heard from plenty of people who’re confused about deductions from their deposit, so we’ve put together this useful guide to tenancy deposit schemes. Want to know what to do if your landlord won’t pay your deposit back? Read on!

First things first…

Your landlord has to put your deposit in a “tenancy deposit scheme” within 30 days of getting it. If they don’t, you can take them to court and they may have to pay you up to 1-3 times the total deposit!

The deposit schemes are:

Deposit Protection Service (DPS)

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – insurance scheme

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – custodial scheme


What are landlords allowed to take money from my deposit for?

Landlords are allowed to take money from your deposit if you:

  • Owe rent.
  • Have damaged the property.
  • Have lost or broken anything listed in your property’s inventory.
  • Haven’t kept the property sufficiently clean.

Landlords aren’t allowed to take money to pay for wear and tear… or to fix damage caused by problems you’ve reported that they should have repaired.

What counts as wear and tear?

Wear and tear is the normal damage you’d expect to something as a result of its normal use over time. For example, a landlord isn’t allowed to charge you if you’ve slightly worn a carpet.

How much can landlords take from my deposit?

Any money a landlord takes from your deposit has to be reasonable. They have to tell you why they’re taking money from your deposit and the amount they take should match up with the reason given. No extortionate costs for repainting an entire house when you’ve slightly scuffed a wall!

How long does a landlord get to return a deposit?

Your landlord has to return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back. No longer than that!

What happens if I accept a payment but it isn’t the right amount?

If your landlord makes deductions from your deposit that you don’t agree with and returns the amount they think you should get, you can still accept it.

It doesn’t mean that you’ve agreed to the deductions they want to make.

You can still challenge the deductions!

What happens if I don’t hear from my landlord at all?

If you don’t hear from your landlord at all, you may need to consider court action.

Always get advice before taking a matter to court!

A good first step is to contact Citizens Advice.

How clean does the property have to be? 

You only need to clean the property to the same standard as it was in when you moved in (even if the tenancy agreement calls for professional cleaning).

Can I lose my deposit because I didn’t look after the garden?

It’s your responsibility to maintain any gardens or outside spaces to the standard they were in when you moved in.

If you don’t, you could lose some of your deposit!

Can my landlord take my deposit because of mould?

Mould and damp are technically structural issues – and this means it’s normally your landlord’s responsibility to get it sorted.

If, however, the mould and damp is caused by condensation, it’s normally your fault!

If you don’t open a few windows occasionally to let the moisture out, the property can get pretty damp. If the mould causes damage to the property and it’s the result of condensation, your landlord may take money from your deposit to cover the repairs.

Your landlord should make sure that your property can be properly ventilated, though. If you report problems with ventilation and they don’t do anything to fix them, you’d have grounds to contest any deductions made.

How do I challenge deductions?

First, contact your landlord. Shelter have an excellent template form.

If you can’t resolve the matter, raise a dispute with your deposit scheme. Check out the links above to get in touch.

What can I do to protect my deposit?


Check out Marks Out of Tenancy.

It’s a fantastic site that gives tenants a chance to rate and review their tenancy experience.

When leaving a review, tenants rate their landlord, letting agent, the property and the neighbourhood.

It’s a great way to find out about your landlord in advance!


Go through the fine print, making sure that the property matches up.

Take photos and get your landlord to sign to say they’ve seen them and agree that they represent the current state of the property.

This is essential – and will stop your landlord from charging you for things that weren’t your fault!


Report any problems as soon as you can! If you don’t, you could end up paying for any damages caused!

Take photos and document any problems. It’s always best to keep a note of when things happened – this will let you show your landlord that you’ve reported all damages. It’ll put you in a great position if you have to dispute any charges.

Hope this helps! If you’ve got any stories about deposit issues, we’d love to hear them! Get in touch by emailing us at



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