How Do I Claim My Tenancy Deposit Back?
You want to move to a new property in the UK, hoping to start a fresh life. You are full of conviction and decide to clear all dues, thereby getting the deposit back from your landlord.
In unforeseen circumstances, the landlord withholds your deposit money. In such cases, you can begin by checking the tenancy deposit scheme.
Consequently, you will need to follow a well-set procedure that depends on the annual rent. Court action will be the last decision to get your tenancy deposit back.
The 2019 Tenant Fees Act provides relief by capping tenancy deposits for tenants.
Still, in-depth knowledge and legal advice about claiming your tenancy deposit prove crucial.
Tenancy Agreement and Deposits
A tenancy agreement is a document between the landlord and a tenant. This legal document has the following information.
- Let property
- Holding deposit
- General provisions
- Renovation terms
When you pay the agreed amount as a deposit, the landlord must submit the payment in a suitable tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Generally, landlords opt for any one of the two prominent UK tenancy schemes.
- Custodial Scheme
- Insured Scheme
After the tenancy ends, the landlord or letting agent should give you the entire or mutually discussed deposit amount back. However, for this eligibility, you need to ensure the following points.
- You paid the whole rent as per agreement
- There was no deterioration to the property of the landlord
- You adhered to all terms as per the tenancy agreement
Depending on the type, the landlord or agent pays you the rightful amount. In the case of custodial schemes, the scheme administrator can pay you the deposit if you fulfil all the necessary terms.
How Do I Get My Tenancy Deposit Back?
To get your deposit back, you should follow a systematic approach.
First, ensure you fulfil all the required criteria as per the tenancy agreement. Next, contact your landlord or letting agency to ask for the claim status.
Follow these tips to get your deposit back with a high probability of success.
- Email: Send a formal electronic mail to your landlord or holding agent
- Photos: Take photos of the property to create proof in case of future dispute
- Check-out inventory: Request your landlord to sign a document stating the proper condition of the property items
- Payment: Your landlord can rightfully demand the rent that you owe. Pay the full amount
- Exclude: Do not pay for a worn carpet, wall scuff marks, or incomplete repairs
After this basic process, you can get your deposit back without much hassle. However, it is vital to know some technical points.
Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme Conditions
The previous section explains the simplest way to claim your tenancy deposits. However, the type of deposit protection scheme can influence the process.
Your landlord will tell you the scheme where they placed your holding deposits. If the deposit is protected in a Custodial scheme, an administrative agency holds the money.
- Your landlord can request the administrator to release the money
- On the contrary, even you can decide to request after mutual agreement
- The schemes should return your money in less than ten working days
- You can even use your online account for this process
Depending on the tenancy deposit administrator, you may need to consult one of the three prominent UK agencies.
- Deposit Protection Service
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
The deposit is protected or held by the landlord in an insurance scheme. This condition is highly prevalent in the case of corporate or landlords who have multiple properties.
- Negotiate with the landlord and request your holding deposit
- The property owner will return the amount through cash, cheque, or bank transfer
- You should finalise a reasonable offer with the landlord
- Generally, you can get the deposit back in less than ten days
Note: Irrespective of the scheme, the landlord can impose deductions for any damage or due rent.
What If I Do Not Agree With the Deductions?
Every scheme has a dispute resolution service. If you feel you have paid all the landlord’s costs, it is time to negotiate about the deductions.
TDP schemes encourage tenants to raise a dispute in such cases. Notably, the UK government’s Tenancy Deposit Protection suggests the same if you cannot contact the landlord.
A dispute resolution service acts as the chief mediator by following systematic steps.
- Check for evidence
- Finalise deposit amount
It is vital to realise that you can use this service only when your landlord agrees to the conditions. If the landlord or agent disagrees, you can opt for suing with a court action or an ADR service.
Court Action to Claim Your Deposit
Let’s consider you provide evidence to the landlord of all the necessary steps from your side. Still, the landlord refuses to respond.
Next, you use a different process and suggest a dispute resolution service. What if the landlord doesn’t respond at all?
As a tenant, this scenario is undesirable. So, you need to get ready to pay court fees and brace up for a court hearing. Here’s how you do it.
It is important to gather all crucial evidence for a court hearing. This evidence is proof that you do not owe rent to the landlord.
Tenants should keep the following documents ready.
- Tenancy agreement
- Receipt of tenancy deposits
- Claim form
- Proof of no remaining unpaid rent
- Application letter
Legal aid can prove beneficial in this procedure.
Formal Letter to the Landlord
In step two, you send a letter of request to the landlord to respond and return your deposit amount.
In most cases, a tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy can hope to get the amount back at this point.
Now you must be thinking – will I get my deposit back without further steps? The short answer is – it depends on your landlord.
The landlord can argue for possible deductions even after this letter. So, you need to file a claim form to the court.
Fill the Court Application and Pay the Court Fees
If the landlord doesn’t respond to your request letter, it is time to pay the court fees. You need to fill the N1 form for this purpose.
County court money or subsequent court fee can impact your budget. UK citizens and low-income tenants can get help with such fees in such a case.
After application, the court can give you and your landlord a chance for a reasonable settlement. Otherwise, you can proceed with several hearings.
In most cases, landlords settle a dispute with tenants to avoid court hearings. Hence, claiming your deposit becomes straightforward.
Overall, getting your deposit back is a simple process if you do not have unpaid rent and damages to the property.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common queries of tenants regarding tenancy deposits.
What are tenancy deposit capped values?
As per the Tenant Fees Act 2019, the capped values have simple segregations.
- Annual rent less than or equal to £ 50,000: 5-week rent cap on tenancy deposits
- Annual rent over £ 50,000: 6-week rent cap on tenancy deposits
However, if you have a holding deposit, the deposit amount cannot be capped for more than one week.
Will I get my deposit back if I leave before the end of the tenancy agreement?
If you leave early without the landlord’s consent, you cannot claim the deposit amount. It is ideal for maintaining good relations with the landlord in such a case.
You can recommend a new tenant before opting out early from a fixed tenancy agreement.
What are the things my landlord cannot deduct from my tenancy deposit?
Any landlord cannot show deductions through regular usage of inventory. For example, a worn carpet does not qualify for deductions.
Also, the routine wear and tear of the property aren’t liable for deductions.
However, a landlord can deduct an amount for compensating functional, aesthetic damage like a broken lock, bleach marks, and missing furniture.