Make Sure Your Deposit Is Protected

Renting privately this year? Our advisors have put together a list with everything you need to know to protect your deposit, and what to do if you think there’s a problem.

Renting privately this year? While it may seem too early to be thinking about the end of your tenancy, it is important to make sure early on that your deposit has been protected properly, to avoid issues later.

Our advisors have put together a list with everything you need to know, and what to do if you think there’s a problem with your deposit.

What is deposit protection and why is it important?

Before you move into a privately rented property, you will usually need to pay a security deposit of no more than five weeks’ rent to the landlord or estate agent. This is for the protection of the landlord to cover instances of rent arrears (if you fail to pay rent) or damage to the property.

You should get the full amount returned to you at the end of your tenancy unless the landlord has reason to request deductions. Unfortunately, in most cases, some deductions are proposed, and they are often unfair.

If you are renting in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (the most common type of tenancy), your landlord must put your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP) within 30 days of receiving it.

There are four schemes that are recognised and approved by the government:

These schemes will make sure that you get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy, provided you have left the property in a good condition and paid your rent and bills on time. They can also act as independent adjudicators if you cannot come to an agreement about deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy.

If you have issues with your landlord requesting unfair deductions from your deposit, or not returning it on time, then we will guide you through the process to get your deposit back.

Checking if your deposit is protected

After your landlord has put your deposit into a TDP scheme, they should then provide you with written confirmation of the details of the scheme, including the amount that has been protected, and arrangements for the return of the deposit. 

Most landlords and agents place this information in the deposit section of the tenancy agreement (contract). It is important to check all the details are correct when you receive this.

If you are renting as a group in a joint tenancy, you will usually pay a single deposit for the property, split equally between the tenants. This means your deposit will usually be protected as one whole single deposit, with one tenant named as the “lead/head tenant,” responsible for contacting the TDP scheme in the event of a dispute.

If you are unsure whether your deposit has been protected, you can search on each of the scheme websites to check.

You will need the following information to search:

  • Full address of the property
  • Tenant’s surname (if you are in a joint contract, try searching for each tenant’s name)
  • Tenancy start date
  • Deposit amount 

If you haven’t already done so, we recommend you take a look through our Moving In Guide, to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important like Council Tax.

If you are having trouble finding your deposit protection information, or you’re unsure if your tenancy has been protected, get in touch with us and we will be able to help you.

What should I do if my deposit is not protected?

If you think that your deposit has not been put into a TDP, you should contact your landlord or agent as soon as possible to ask them why this is the case, and request that they protect it as soon as possible. We find that most landlords DO protect the deposits they receive because if they don’t, tenants can take them to court for one to three times the value of the deposit. 

If you are not provided with the correct deposit protection information or find that your deposit was not properly protected, you can pursue legal action to get compensation. In this case, please contact us for support in taking these steps, or come along to one of the Housing Zoom drop-ins on Tuesday or Thursday each week, listed on our events calendar.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the must-know information in our Private Housing Moving In Guide.

Further support

The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Our advisors hold drop-ins on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon 13:30-15:30, and in-person every Wednesday 13:30-15:30. You can find more information on our events calendar and can join the virtual drop-ins using this Zoom link. 

Email us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with any questions or to ask for a different meeting time.