A deposit forms part of any commercial tenancy agreement and when you leave a property at the end of your tenancy, you are entitled to receive it back. You should usually receive your deposit back within 10 days of the end of your tenancy agreement, providing there is no damage to the property or its contents.
If your landlord holds your deposit, they should pay it back within 10 days of a request for the deposit to be returned. It is important to be aware that you cannot request a return of a deposit until your tenancy ends. On the other hand, if your deposit is being held in a custodial scheme then you can request a return directly through this.
How long does a landlord have to notify you of damages?
A landlord will usually carry out a thorough inspection of the property to check for any damages that could lead to deposit deductions. There is no fixed timescale within which a landlord needs to inform you of any possible deductions. However, if 10 days after requesting a deposit return have passed, you can raise a dispute through a tenancy deposit scheme and ask for the landlord to state any deductions within this.
How to get your deposit back
If your deposit has not been returned following the end of your tenancy term, there are a number of ways you can attempt to expedite its repayment:
- Ask for your deposit back
Ask your landlord or, if applicable, the letting agent or property management company in Hertfordshire, to return your deposit if they hold the funds. Either write to the relevant party, or send them an email requesting the return of your deposit.
2. Contact a tenancy deposit scheme
If your landlord paid your deposit funds into a deposit protection scheme, you can ask them to refund your money. This usually happens within 5 – 10 days following your request. You or your landlord can request the protection scheme to either:
- Refund your funds in full
- Refund part of the funds to you and part to your landlord, providing you agree on the amounts
If your landlord protected your deposit funds using an insurance based scheme, a tenancy deposit protection scheme cannot refund your money.
3. Challenge any deductions from your deposit
Should your landlord refund your deposit with deductions, they should write to you to explain why they have done so. Reasonable examples for deductions include:
- Causing damage to the property
- Failing to leave the property in a clean and tidy condition
- Failure to pay rent
Your landlord can also make deductions from your deposit for the cost of:
- Replacing lost or damaged items such as keys
- Repairs for damage outside normal wear and tear
They cannot make deductions for:
- The cost of repairing damage that existed when you moved in
- The cost of repairing or maintaining normal wear and tear, such as faded paintwork and worn carpets
- The cost of cleaning your property if you leave it as clean as it was when you moved in
If your landlord does not explain any deductions they have made, you can ask for an explanation
4. Consider court action
If your landlord withholds all or part of your deposit, you may be able to take court action, but this should be a last resort. If you held an assured shorthold tenancy and your landlord used a deposit protection scheme, you can consider court action.
If your landlord did not protect your deposit, you can take them to court to claim:
- A refund of your deposit funds
- Compensation of between 1 – 3 times the value of your deposit
5. Claiming compensation
If you held an assured shorthold tenancy, you may be able to claim compensation if your landlord broke tenancy deposit protection laws, including:
- They didn’t protect your deposit
- They protected your deposit late (outside the 30-day term)
- They didn’t provide you with relevant information about the scheme they used to protect your deposit
You can make a claim for compensation even if your landlord has returned part or all of your deposit.
What to do if your landlord is not returning your deposit
If your landlord is not complying with their legal obligations, you can seek help by contacting the deposit protection service, with which your deposit has been secured. Each of the three government-backed tenancy schemes have their own dispute processes, which you can follow. If your landlord hasn’t secured the deposit, then you should take legal action through a small claims court to begin the process of claiming compensation.
Is my deposit protected?
If you sign an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, your landlord is liable to protect your deposit. Your landlord should have informed you which tenancy deposit protection scheme they’ve used to protect your money.
There are three main deposit scheme providers:
- The Dispute Service (TDS)
- Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
To check if your deposit is protected, you will need to supply:
- The postcode of the rental property
- The tenant’s name
- The tenancy start date
- The tenancy deposit amount
If you are a student living in halls or a lodger, your landlord is not obliged to protect your deposit.