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TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME

Do I need to pay a deposit?

If you move into rented accommodation with a private landlord, you will normally be asked to pay a deposit, often a month’s rent but sometimes more.  Landlords take deposits as insurance against non-payment of rent or to cover the costs of cleaning or replacing locks or keys if the tenant does not return them on time at the end of the housing contract.

Does my deposit need to be protected?

This depends on the type of housing contract you have, also known as an agreement or tenancy. If you share accommodation with your landlord or a member of his family, you are likely to have a licence agreement or be an excluded occupier.  In this case, your landlord is not required to protect your deposit. You will need to negotiate the amount of the deposit and how it is returned to you at the end of your housing contract directly with your landlord.

If the landlord or a member of his family does not live in the accommodation with you, you are likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy and your landlord must protect your deposit in a government scheme called a tenancy deposit protection scheme.  Check the first page of your tenancy agreement or housing contract to see what kind of tenancy or agreement you have.

If you are not sure what kind of tenancy you have or you do not have a written contract, contact QMUL Housing Services for advice.

How does the tenancy deposit protection scheme work?

From 6th April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords on assured shorthold tenancies have to be protected in a government approved scheme within 30 days of being received. As well as protecting your deposit, your landlord also has to give you certain information including:

• which scheme he is using
• the contact details for the scheme,
• what you can do if there is a dispute
• how the money will be returned to you at the end of the contract  

Watch this short video on the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

How many schemes are there?

There are currently four schemes, one custodial and three insurance-based schemes. The 'Tenancy Deposits' section of QMUL Housing Services’ Private Accommodation Housing guide [PDF 318KB] explains the difference between custodial and insurance-based schemes.

The gov.uk website has detailed information about all the schemes and helpline numbers you can contact if you have any questions:

The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) (custodial and insurance based) - 0330 303 0030.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) ( insurance based) - 01844 262 891 or 0845 226 7837
Tenancy Deposit Solutions (TDSL) (insurance based) - 0333 321 9401 

My landlord has not protected my deposit or given me the required information– what can I do?

If your landlord fails to protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it and has not given you the required information, from day 31 you will be able to make a claim against the landlord. You can claim for the full amount of the deposit plus a penalty of between one and three times the sum of the deposit.

Your landlord cannot also serve you with a notice requiring you to leave the accommodation known as a Section 21 notice until he has complied with his obligations under the scheme.

My landlord has protected my deposit but will not return it - what can I do?

If your landlord protected your deposit in one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes, he should also have given you information on what you could do if there was a dispute.  

If your landlord protected your deposit but refuses to return it to you at the end of your contract or makes deductions from it you don't agree with, there are two main options to consider. One is alternative dispute resolution or ADR and the second is taking court action. Shelter's website has detailed information about ADR and taking court action to get your deposit back.

If you were not given information by your landlord about what you could do if there was a dispute or were given information but want more advice about ADR, telephone the relevant helpline number of whichever scheme your deposit was placed in as above.

My landlord did not need to protect my deposit but will not return it - what can I do?

If your deposit did not need to be protected, you will need to try and negotiate any deductions with your landlord to get your deposit back. If you cannot agree on the sum to be returned to you, get advice from QMUL Housing Services or Shelter

Where can I get more advice?

QMUL Housing Services’ Private Accommodation Housing guide [PDF 318KB]contains more detailed advice about tenancy deposit protection schemes as well as other useful information about private rented accommodation.

You might also find it useful to look at the tenancy deposit information on Shelter’s website.

Watch this short video on the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

Once you have read this information, if you still have questions about housing deposits, contact QMUL Housing Services.

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