If you’re renting in the UK, then the chances are very good that you’re doing under what’s called an assured shorthold tenancy. As such, you have the legal right to have your deposit protected as part of an independent scheme. You don’t have to take any action for this to happen: your landlord is duty-bound to protect your deposit if it comes in the form of money rather than valuable items like jewellery.
What are the different deposit protection schemes in the UK?
There are three deposit protection schemes available to landlords in England and Wales. These are the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, things are slightly different – although not from the point of view of the tenant.
How can a tenant handle a deposit dispute effectively?
One of the major advantages of this process is that tenants aren’t left at the mercy of their landlords. If there’s a disagreement about whether the deposit should be refunded, then it can be handled by an impartial dispute resolution service.
You’ll need to be timely about this, as in many cases there’s a time limit for dispute resolution.
- If you have taken out specialised renter’s insurance, then you’ll have protection against the sudden financial shock that comes with having the deposit withheld. These insurance products are designed specifically with renters in mind, and they’ll help to keep your liabilities low, even if you are to blame for the property being damaged.
- Remember that your landlord might not be entitled to the entire deposit, even if the property’s condition has deteriorated. The amount they withhold should be proportional to the loss suffered. In other words, if a kitchen chair is broken, they can’t take back a thousand pounds to cover it.
- It’s a good idea to write to your landlord to ask for your money back before you escalate. This will demonstrate goodwill, but it will also give your landlord a chance to think twice about whether they want to be dragged through the process. This will help them to avoid paying legal costs.
- This point is critical if your landlord has failed to protect your deposit. This being the case, they could potentially be in trouble with the law. Don’t try to press this advantage too aggressively: just offer a way out, and the chances are good that they will take it.
In some cases, it can take a bit of perseverance to secure justice. Don’t give up, and don’t do anything rash that might jeopardise your chances in the long term. Seek advice from an appropriate organisation, and ensure you know your rights.