Getting your deposit back

Usually your landlord has to protect your deposit in a deposit protection scheme. The scheme can decide how much you get back if you and your landlord cannot agree. If your deposit was not protected when it should have been, you can get compensation.

Check if your deposit is protected

Your deposit does not need to be protected if you:

  • live with your landlord

  • rent from a family member, not including cousins

  • live in a holiday home

  • live in a property used by a religious organisation

  • stay in supported accommodation

  • have an agricultural or crofting tenancy

If your deposit does have to be protected, there are 3 schemes your landlord can use. If you do not know where your deposit is, contact each one to see if they have it:

You or your landlord can ask for the deposit to be released from the scheme when your tenancy ends.

Steps to take to get your deposit back

  1. Leave the property in a good clean state, check your inventory and take pictures

  2. If you can, do an exit check together with your landlord or letting agent

  3. Ask for your deposit to be returned in writing

  4. If your landlord wants to keep some of the deposit, ask them for a breakdown of the costs they want to charge

Negotiate on how much you'll get back

Carefully check any charges and consider whether they are fair.

Your landlord cannot use your deposit for normal wear and tear. They also cannot use it for improvements that would leave the property in better condition than when you moved in.

Check Property Mark’s guide to what counts as fair wear and tear

Tell your landlord or letting agent how much you think you should get back and why. Give proof if you can, such as:

  • what was listed in the inventory

  • what was agreed on an exit check

  • pictures you took when you moved in

  • pictures of the property when you moved out

  • proof that you reported repairs to the landlord

  • cheaper quotes for cleaning or repairs

If you and your landlord agree on the amount you'll get back, then the deposit protection scheme will pay you the money.

If you cannot come to an agreement

Ask the scheme to decide how much you should get back. This is called dispute resolution.

You may need to show that you've tried to negotiate with your landlord first.

The scheme will look at any proof that you and your landlord give them. A decision should be reached in 20 working days.

You can ask for a review if you disagree with the scheme's decision.

If your deposit was not protected

If your landlord did not protect your deposit when they should have, you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber) to get it back.

You could also get compensation up to 3 times the amount of your deposit. You can apply for compensation during your tenancy or within 3 months of your tenancy ending.

Check our guidance on going to the tribunal if your deposit was not protected.

If your deposit did not have to be protected

First, try to negotiate with your landlord to get your deposit back.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you could apply to get your deposit back through a court process called simple procedure. You do not need a solicitor to apply.

Check Citizens Advice for guidance on simple procedure

Last updated: 13 June 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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