Deposits that do not need to be protected

Your deposit does not need to be protected with a deposit scheme if:

  • you live with your landlord

  • your landlord is a family member

  • you stay in a holiday home

  • you stay in a property used by a religious organisation

  • you live in supported accommodation

  • you have an agricultural or crofting tenancy

Most other deposits will need to be protected in a deposit protection scheme.

What is a deposit?

A deposit is a sum of money which acts as a guarantee against:

  • damage you may do to the property

  • cleaning bills if you leave the property in poor condition

  • unpaid bills, such as energy or telephone bills

  • any unpaid rent

Landlords can ask for a maximum of two months rent as a deposit.

When you pay your deposit

Make sure you:

  • agree the deposit amount in writing (including what it may be used for)

  • get a receipt for the amount paid

  • understand how it will be returned at the end of your tenancy

Check the property and the items on the inventory when you move in. Take photos of their condition. This can help if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy.

You can create your own inventory if your landlord does not provide one.

Getting your deposit returned

At the end of the tenancy there may be a delay in the return of the deposit. Your landlord will inspect the property and check for any outstanding bills.

A deposit cannot be used to replace items that are damaged or worn due to normal wear and tear. This includes worn carpets and furniture.

Property Mark's guide to fair wear and tear.

If you don’t get your deposit back

You can claim the money back in court when:

  • you disagree with the landlord about the deduction or

  • they do not return your deposit

It is not advised to withhold any rent to cover your deposit, unless your landlord agrees to this in writing. Your landlord could take court action to recover the money.

If you do withhold rent, keep the money in a separate bank account. Then if the court orders you to pay the money you will be able to.

Be aware if you take this course of action, and the landlord goes to court, it could affect your credit status and you might have to pay court costs.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 15 September 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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