Has your tenancy deposit been registered correctly?
Your landlord is under a legal obligation to ‘protect’ your deposit in a certain scheme (please see the section about the Housing Act which provides further information on this legal obligation.)
They should protect this within 30 days of receiving your deposit. If they don’t, you could be entitled to compensation up to 3 times the value of your deposit.
What you need in order to check:
- Your postcode
- Your tenancy start date
- The amount of your deposit
The following websites can be used to check whether your deposit has been correctly registered:
Alternatively, check to see whether you have been sent a Tenancy Deposit Protection Certificate. This will be proof that the deposit has been registered correctly and contain information about the specific scheme in which it has been protected.
Penalties the landlord could face for not dealing with your deposit correctly
If the landlord fails to protect the deposit under a scheme or fails to provide the prescribed information within 30 days, the tenant is entitled to claim the full sum of the deposit back from the landlord. In addition, the landlord will pay a penalty of between one to three times the value of the deposit (the amount is decided by the court.)
(Please see the section about the Housing Act for further details.)
What is your Landlord allowed to withhold part or all of your deposit for?
Each tenancy agreement is likely to contain different terms about what the landlord can withhold part of your deposit for. This is why it is very important that you fully understand these terms before signing the tenancy agreement in the first place.
However, if there are terms in the agreement that are ‘unfair’, you will not be legally bound by these terms in any event. Examples of unfair terms include:
- Allowing the landlord to change the terms of the agreement whenever they choose
- Making the tenant responsible for paying for structural repairs to the property
- Allowing the landlord to come round to the property when they like without giving notice.
The landlord is allowed to make reasonable deductions from your deposit. For example:
- Money to cover any damage done to the property by the tenants
- Unpaid rent
If making a deduction from your deposit, the landlord should inform you how much the deduction will be and the reasons why.
Your landlord can only withhold part or all of your deposit for actual financial losses suffered that were the tenant’s responsibility.
For example, the landlord would not be able to withhold money for the following:
- Unpaid utility bills – this is a matter between the utility company and tenant
- Agency or advertising fees for re-letting the property (unless the tenancy was not ended properly by the tenant)
- Breaches of the tenancy agreement that are not financial (e.g. that a pet stayed in the property.)
Is Rent in Advance a Deposit?
If money is given to the landlord to pay for rent for future months (for example in the absence of a credit check) then this is not a deposit that needs protecting under the scheme. (see Johnson v Old). If you are paying rent in advance, the amount you pay for this should be specified in the tenancy agreement and state which months the rent will cover.