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How long does a landlord have to return a deposit in the UK?

Moving out? This is what you need to know about getting your deposit back (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Moving out of a rented property means trying to do as much as you can to get the place looking good so you can get your security deposit back.

While often it feels like you lose money for some pretty simple things, your rights around getting your money are actually a lot more protected these days.

Once you and your landlord agree what figure you should receive, they have 10 days to give you the money back.

The issue often lines with coming to that agreement though.

Tenancy deposit protection schemes

Any deposit for a home with an an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007 must be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP).

The landlord must place it in one of these schemes within 30 days of getting it and should provided you with information about where it is held.

If your money is not held in one of these schemes, you can take your landlord to court and they may be forced to pay up to three times the deposit plus court fees.

When it comes to to the end of the tenancy, your landlord will provide documentation to explain how much of your deposit will be returned and what any of it has been spent on.

If you don’t agree with this, you can dispute it and the deposit will be held in a TDP scheme until the dispute is resolved.

If you need help agreeing on the final amount, the TDP schemes offer a free dispute resolution.

You don’t have to use the service and can try to work it out yourselves but if you hit a stalemate, it can be helpful.

Both you and the landlord have to agree to it. You’ll both be asked to provide evidence, and the decision made about your deposit will be final.

Getting your deposit back

A deep clean is key to getting your money back (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In order to get your deposit back, you need to ensure the property is left in a good condition and you haven’t broken any of the terms of your tenancy.

Check your agreement for anything you need to do before leaving – for example, it may require you to keep a garden in good condition and if you have let it become overgrown, you will need to tidy it up.

General wear and tear is allowed but it’s best to be honest about any obvious damage you have caused.

You need to make sure you give it a thorough clean – including the oven, behind the furniture and the fridge freezer. You can pay for an end of tenancy clean but they can be pricey.

Take photos of the property before you leave in case you and the landlord disagree on the condition it was left in. If your landlord wants a check out inspection, make sure you attend.

Once you’ve left, contact your landlord in writing and ask for your deposit to be returned. Shelter has a template you can use.

If they want to take money from the final amount, ask them to provide evidence of the cost.

What if your landlord ignores your request for your deposit?

If you don’t hear back from your landlord after you request your deposit, all is not lost.

After two weeks, you can start a process known as a single claim.

The process depends on which scheme you deposit is in so you will need to contact them to ask what is best to do.

It will involve filling in a statutory declaration form, which will need to be witnesses by a solicitor.

Once the scheme receives the form, the landlord has two weeks to get in touch – if they do, it is referred to the dispute resolution service. If they don’t the scheme should give you your money back within 10 days.

For more information, you can contact Shelter or Citizens Advice.

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Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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