What can I do if my landlord is withholding my deposit?

When your tenancy comes to an end, you will have to contact your landlord or letting agency to request your deposit back. You’ll have a better chance of getting of getting the majority of the deposit back if you leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in – so we always recommend getting photos at the beginning and end of your tenancy in case you and your landlord disagree on how much deposit you should get back.

In some cases, your landlord might keep a portion of the deposit, for example if:

  • You have rent outstanding.
  • You have damaged the property (for example: stains on the carpet or walls, broken facilities, or damage to the structure of the building.)
  • You have broken or lost any items that were in the original inventory.

However, your landlord has no legal right to retain any of the deposit to do any of the following:

  • Replace a worn-out carpet with a new one, simply because the carpet has worn out over time.
  • Fix any damage to the house or flat that was caused by a repair they failed to carry out. This could include damage caused by a leak that wasn’t fixed, or issues regarding poor drainage.
  • Re-decorate a room because of a few scuff marks that can be attributed to ‘wear and tear’

To summarise, your landlord can’t take money from your deposit for any issues that would gradually get worse or need replacing over time anyway.

Can I take legal action if my landlord is withholding my deposit?

If, for whatever reason, you and your landlord cannot agree on how much of your deposit you should receive, you may be able to take further action.

What action you can take, however, will depend on whether or not your landlord has protected your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).

Whilst most deposits should be protected, if you’re unsure or you don’t know which scheme your money is protected by, it is important to find out as soon as possible.

If your deposit is protected, you should be able to use your scheme’s ‘alternative dispute resolution’ service to help to resolve the issue. However, if your deposit has not been protected by a scheme, you may be within your rights to claim compensation of up to 1-3 times the amount. If this is the case, you should also get your deposit back, though there may be deductions for outstanding rent or damage to the property.

At CEL Solicitors, our expert team of solicitors are on-hand to give you information and advice about your rights as a tenant. Contact our expert team of housing solicitors today on 0808 273 0900 or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk.