Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Student Advice and Support Service

Housing

How to get your deposit back

The deposit is your money. It should be returned once you have moved out and/or your tenancy has come to an end. However, your landlord may propose deductions from the deposit if they have suffered a financial loss during your tenancy.

At the end of the tenancy you should write to your landlord/ agent and request the deposit back.  The landlord should refund you in full, or propose deductions, within ten days. The landlord should account for any deductions they wish to make from it. You can ask to see receipts for any replacement items or for any work done.

Deductions should not be made for damage caused by fair wear and tear. The landlord should also avoid ‘betterment’, i.e. they should ensure the deductions do not put them in a better position than at the start of the tenancy. If the tenant is responsible for any damage the landlord can make deductions in respect of a ‘like for like’ replacement, not ‘new for old’.

What counts as ‘fair wear and tear’?

Fair wear and tear refers to damage that has been caused through normal use or through ageing. A landlord’s carpets, curtains, furniture and fittings will all suffer a certain amount of damage by wear and tear.

What about cleaning?

Tenancy agreements often state that carpets and curtains must be cleaned at the end of the tenancy, sometimes professionally cleaned. This does not mean that they have to be cleaner or even as clean as when you moved in. Your obligation is to give the house back to the landlord in the same state and condition as at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted. You are required to clean any items which are soiled above normal wear and tear. If you carry out any cleaning, keep records and receipts where appropriate.

If damage is caused by a third party other than the tenants’ guests, for example following a break-in, there should not be any deductions from the deposit.

What if you do not agree with the deductions?

If you disagree and/or think the deductions are unfair, you can dispute how much of the deposit the landlord can keep, if any. Set out your objection in writing and request the return of the undisputed amount along with proof of any costs the landlord/letting agent claims to have incurred.

If you cannot agree the deductions and the deposit is covered by tenancy deposit protection you should contact the scheme provider for details about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The tenancy deposit protection scheme will keep hold of any disputed amount until both you and the landlord have come to an agreement. If either you or your landlord object to using ADR to resolve the dispute, then it will have to be resolved in the County Court.

What if you do not have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)?

If you are a lodger, there are no legal rules protecting any deposit you may have paid. Your landlord may deduct an amount before returning the deposit to cover costs, such as damage to the property or furniture. If you disagree with that amount, you can try to negotiate with your landlord. Any evidence you have to support your case will be useful, such as the inventory, photographs, etc.

Ultimately, if you and your landlord can’t reach an agreement and you think the deductions are unfair or unreasonable, you will have to use the small claims procedure in the County Court to get the rest of the deposit back. Sometimes the prospect of legal action will be enough to make your landlord return the deposit. Contact the Student Advice and Support Service for advice.

You can also read about how to get your deposit back in the following extract from our “Guide to living off campus” (click on the image below).