A tenancy deposit is a sum of money (often works out roughly the same amount as 1 month’s rent, but not always) which you pay to your landlord (or their agent) as security against your obligations in the contract. The particulars of this should be stated in your contract but typically it can cover damage caused by the tenant or a tenant’s guest, unpaid rent, contractual ‘fines’ (e.g. call-out fee for the landlord being called out if you’ve locked yourself out, or late-payment charges if rent isn’t paid on time), cleaning and sometimes unpaid bills (e.g. electricity / gas bill).
During the tenancy the deposit remains your money and, provided you have met all the applicable obligations in your contract and have o outstanding debt to the landlord, it should be returned to you shortly after the end of the tenancy.
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If you pay a tenancy deposit to your landlord / their agent for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (which will be the case for most students) then they are legally required to register your deposit with a government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme.
There are three such schemes; these are:
– Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) (sometimes known as ‘The Dispute Service’)
– Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
– Mydeposits (sometimes known as ‘Tenancy Deposit Solutions’)
The purpose of deposit protection is to allow independent adjudication in the event of a dispute over the return of the deposit. So if, after the end of the tenancy, the landlord (or their agent) wants to keep some or all of your deposit, or just refuses to return your deposit and doesn’t respond to communication from you, you can lodge a dispute with the applicable Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme who will act as a sort of independent ‘judge’ and decide for themselves who should get what and ensure that the money is paid to the rightful party. This makes generally it easier to settle disputes and avoids having to go through County Court.
Depending on which scheme and which deposit protection option the landlord (or agent) chooses, your deposit will be either physically handed over to the scheme for them to hold in their bank account or will be retained by the landlord / agent (but nevertheless registered with the scheme) themselves in a ring-fenced bank account.
Tenancy Deposit Protection is a legal requirement under the Housing Act 2004 and if your landlord (or their agent) doesn’t protect your deposit then you could be entitled to sue them.
To find out more information about deposits, how to maximise the chances of getting your deposit back and how to check if your deposit is protected, visit the LTSU Community Living Guide.
To speak to someone for help or advice regarding anything to do with deposits, contact the Student Welfare Service.