Agent Information & FAQs 

  • Overview for agents
  • FAQs | Protecting deposits
  • FAQs | Joining TDS
  • FAQs | Disputes
  • FAQs | Complaints 

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The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a multi-award winning provider of tenancy deposit protection, protecting over 1 million deposits in England and Wales.

Click on the left to find the answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions about protecting deposits, raising disputes, and joining the scheme. You can also find a wealth of information about TDS across this website, and beyond. 

Our in-house customer services team are here to support you when you need it:

Calls  Calls answered in 30 seconds           Emails  Emails answered in a few hours
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Click here to read our selection of Guides for Letting Agents

Click here to read our library of dispute case studies

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Protecting tenancy deposits FAQs

What is tenancy deposit protection?

Deposits on assured shorthold tenancies (AST's) must be protected with a government approved scheme.

The landlord or agent must protect the deposit and issue prescribed information to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

If there is disagreement over how the deposit is divided at the end of the tenancy, a dispute can be raised with the scheme and an impartial adjudicator will decide how the deposit should be divided based on the evidence provided.

Tenancy deposit protection is a requirement of the Housing Act 2004.

What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales operated by The Dispute Service Ltd. The Dispute Service is an industry owned, not for profit company.

How does TDS protect tenancy deposits?

TDS operates both Insured and Custodial tenancy deposits protection schemes, both approved by the government.

With TDS Insured, the agent or landlord holds the deposit during the tenancy and the money is covered by our insurance. Deposits are only ever sent to us when we are asked to adjudicate in a dispute.

With TDS Custodial, TDS holds the deposit during the tenancy, for free.

For more information, please see our joining page.

What is prescribed information?

You must provide the tenant with specific details of the deposit protection and a leaflet explaining how TDS works. This is called prescribed information. It must be issued within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Click here for a prescribed information template and scheme leaflet.

What is a "tenancy deposit"?

A tenancy deposit is a sum of money which a landlord requires a tenant to pay at the start of the tenancy or which the landlord holds over from a previous tenancy with the same tenant. The money is security in case the tenant does not meet their obligations in connection with the tenancy.

Which deposits need to be protected?

All deposits taken by landlords in relation to assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected. This includes 'pet' deposits and 'garage' deposits, but does not include holding deposits. (See more about these types of deposits below)

Do holding deposits need to be protected?

No. A holding deposit is not a tenancy deposit for the purposes of section 212 of the Housing Act 2004 and does not need to be protected. 

Do 'pet deposits' need to be protected?

Yes, if it is being paid to a landlord for the purpose of ensuring that the house is properly cleaned at the end of the tenancy, and with a view to returning it to the tenant if the house is clean, then it is a deposit that needs to be protected. "Pet deposits" are a form of tenancy deposit within the definition contained in section 212(8) of the 2004 Housing Act. 

Do 'garage deposits' need to be protected?

Yes, if it is being paid to a landlord for the purpose of ensuring that the garage is properly maintained, and with a view to returning the deposit to the tenant if it is in good order, then it is a deposit that needs to be protected. "Garage deposits" are also a form of tenancy deposit within the definition contained in section 212(8) of the 2004 Housing Act. 

How should deposits paid in instalments be protected?

TDS members should protect the deposit, even if it's paid to them in instalments. You should protect the deposit on the basis of the total amount of the deposit you expect to receive for the tenancy over its life and ensure that the instalments are detailed in the tenancy agreement. If an instalment isn't paid and this will affect the sum registered, please contact us so we can adjust the certificate.

What happens if the property is sold mid-tenancy?

If you remain the managing agent and the deposit stays in your client account, contact TDS and we will update the protection with details of the new landlord. There is no additional cost nor break in protection.

If you hold the deposit and it's protected on a 'let only' basis you must protect the deposit as new. 

In both situations you must serve new prescribed information within 30 days of the change of landlord. 

If you need to release the deposit to be protected elsewhere, act with caution. You are responsble to both parties for its safety. So some key advice:

  • Get written confirmation from the new landlord/agent of how the new deposit will be protected
  • If it's going to be protected in a custodial scheme, only pay direct to the scheme
  • If it's going to be protected in an insured scheme, only release it with confirmation it has been re-protected. 
  • When you release the money, inform all parties of what you have done and where the deposit is.

What if the deposit is paid on behalf of the tenant?

The person paying the deposit on the tenant's behalf will be considered a “relevant person”. This is a person, company or organisation who, in accordance with arrangements made with the tenant, paid the deposit on behalf of the tenant e.g. a local authority, employer, parent or guarantor. This relationship does not need to be entered on to the TDS tenancy database, but the landlord will to provide this person with prescribed information.

What does the Deregulation Act 2015 mean for tenancy deposit protection?

The Deregulation Act 2015 resolves and clarifies issues in the law following the Superstrike v Rodrigues and Charalambous v Ng court rulings. 

Click here to read our guidance on the Deregulation Act 2015.

What are the initial requirements of TDS?

The law requires that you comply with the initial requirements of your tenancy deposit protection scheme. At TDS our initial requirements are:

- The Member must enter on the TDS tenancy database all the required details about a deposit if that deposit has not previously been protected.

- After the Member has entered all the required details relating to a deposit on the TDS tenancy database for the first time the Member does not need to do so again. This Scheme has no initial requirements for Renewed ASTs and/or Statutory Periodic Tenancies if all details about the deposit were entered on the TDS tenancy database at the start of a prior tenancy.

- Where an AST with a deposit began before 6 April 2007 and is replaced with a Renewed AST or a Statutory Periodic Tenancy after that date, the Member must meet the Scheme's initial requirements. The deposit is deemed to have been received at the start of the Renewed AST or Statutory Periodic Tenancy, the statutory time limit begins, and all required details of the Deposit must promptly be entered on the TDS tenancy database.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme membership

Who can join TDS?

In TDS Insured, any lettings agent, housing association or corporate landlord with tenancies in England and Wales may apply for Membership. A landlord who is not a Corporate Landlord should join using TDS for Landlords membership. 

In TDS Custodial, any landlord, lettings agent, housing association or corporate landlord may join instantly here.

What are the requirements of joining?

In TDS Custodial, membership is immediate and landlords and agents can join and start protecting deposits straight away here.

In TDS Insured, to become a Member, applicants must: 

  • have a Client Account with Client Protection Insurance; 
  • pay the required Membership Subscription to TDS when it is due;
  • agree to abide by the Rules of this Scheme and with the Adjudication Rules. 

Which are the approved bodies?

In TDS Insured, agents can gain discounts to our headline rates if they are members of industry orgnisations. The approved bodies are:

Housing Associations must be registered with the Homes and Communities Agency.

How much does it cost?

TDS Custodial is free.

With TDS Insured, for letting agents, housing associations, and corporate landlords we offer an annual subscription (from 1 April to 31 March) based on an agreed number of deposits.

After one year of membership and subject to low disputes usage, generous discounts on our headline rates are available.

Find our headline rates for letting agents here 

Find our headline rates for housing associations here.

What is the annual data snapshot?

If you already hold annual membership of TDS we will calculate your subscription for the next membership year by taking an annual snapshot of the data in your account based on the number of deposits you are protecting. 

The snapshot for the 2019-20 membership year will take place on Sunday 27 January 2019.

Members should ensure their accounts are up to date in preparation for the snapshot. Guidance is available in this document: Prepare for the snapshot

I am a landlord holding over £100,000 of deposits.
How much does it cost?

Because of the bespoke nature of your business, corporate landlords are individually priced in consultation with our insurers. You can join by completing the "application for individual terms" form. When we receive it, we will get back to you with a price within ten working days. TDS is the only not for profit scheme, reflected in the highly competitive prices we offer our members.

Download an application for membership on individual terms

How do I join TDS?

To join TDS Custodial, please go here.

To join TDS Insured as a letting agent, housing association, or corporate landlord please complete and return an application form. We will confirm the success of your application within 10 working days. 

To join TDS Insured as a landlord who is not a Corporate Landlord, please go to TDS for Landlords to join.

I am a letting agent without approved body membership. Can I join?

Yes. You can join TDS Custodial immediately here.

You can apply for TDS Insured membership by completing the application form below. We will carry out an individual assessment to establish your suitability for TDS Insured membership. 

Download an application for membership on individual terms

Tenancy deposit disputes FAQs

What happens when I raise a dispute?

If all the parties agree to TDS resolving the dispute, TDS will appoint an impartial adjudicator to make a legally binding decision, normally within 28 days of receiving the parties’ consent and evidence. If one of the parties does not reply to our notification, they are treated as consenting. In all these cases, the adjudicator will normally make a decision based on the evidence received within 28 days after the deadline for giving evidence.

The disputed amount must be paid to TDS to hold during the dispute resolution process, and any undisputed amount repaid to the tenant. When adjudication is complete, TDS will pay the money to the parties according to the decision of the adjudicator.

How do I start a dispute?

To start the dispute process you must complete a Dispute Application Form. The quickest and easiest way to do this in online. After you have raised a dispute the other party will be invited to respond, and be given 10 working days in which to do so. If you are unable to raise a dispute online, please call our customer contact centre for further guidance.

How do I respond to a dispute?

To respond to a dispute you must complete a Dispute Response Form. The quickest and easiest way to do this is online. Once you have been invited to give your response you have 10 working days in which to provide your evidence. If you are unable to respond to a dispute online, please call our customer contact centre for further guidance.

How long do I have to raise a dispute?

You must raise your dispute within 3 months from the lawful end of the tenancy. Disputes received after this time will be rejected unless there are very good reasons.

How much money can be disputed through TDS?

We can only award money up to the value of the the deposit registered. There is no minumum dispute amount required, however if it is a small amount the parties should consider whether it is enough to justify the effort of using the dispute process.

What evidence should I submit?

For detailed information read our guide 'How to present your case to the TDS adjudicator'.

The adjudicator works on the basis that the deposit is the tenant's money, and will only award money to landlords and agents if the evidence provided justifies that claim. 

Documentary evidence is usually essential to prove a case, such as: 

  • Tenancy agreement - this sets out the obligations of both parties and is essential for any case.
  • Check-in report and/or inventory - to show the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy
  • Check-out report - to show the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy - photographs or videos used in conjunction with an inventory to support the condition of items in the property.
  • Rent statement - to show what the tenant paid, for what periods of time and what is owed (if anything) 
  • Estimates - to show the approximate cost of carrying out work/replacing things. The more detail, the better. 
  • Quotes - show the quoted cost of carrying out work or replacing things. 
  • Invoices - show the cost paid/to be paid for carrying out work/replacing things 
  • Receipts - show the cost that the landlord or agent has paid out

What evidence should I not submit?

Do not submit documents if they don't relate to the dispute. Adjudicators examine all of the evidence you send and if it is not relevant the process will take much longer than necessary.

Who will see the evidence I submit?

All documents you give to TDS in support of your claim will be made available for the parties to the dispute to see via our Online Evidence Portal.  It is your responsibility to make sure that you do not send us evidence which you do not want the other parties to the dispute to see.

Should I go to court rather than use TDS?

Either party may go to court if they prefer. We can only deal with their dispute if both tenant and landlord agree they want us to. However, if one of the parties does not reply to our notification, they are treated as consenting. Most people prefer to come to us because they feel it will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful. Like the courts, we are independent and authoritative. We can deal with proposed deductions from a deposit, but we cannot award compensation or consider other matters away from the deposit.

My dispute is not just about the tenancy deposit. Can TDS help?

No. TDS is not able to consider ‘set-offs’ or ‘counterclaims’ brought by either party. If there are other matters away from how the deposit is divided, we will not be able to form a judgment about these  and you should take independent legal advice on the best way to resolve them.

I have a complaint FAQs

I have a complaint about the service

In the first instance, does your complaint relate to the progress of a specific case before we have made an adjudication decision? If so, we will have sent you updates that show the name and contact details of the person responsible for progress. Please contact them first.
If your complaint does not relate to a specific case, please contact us on 0300 037 1000.

The Contact Centre will help with your question or escalate it to a TDS member of staff, who will contact you directly. If you remain unhappy, please send us your complaint within 28 calendar days of the problem arising. Please do this by email or letter using the address on our Contact Us By Post page. Putting your complaint in writing will help us understand it better and respond fully. Our email address for complaints is:

Click here for more details about the complaints procedure.

I have a complaint about an adjudication decision

We make our adjudication decisions after considering the evidence we receive in a careful and unbiased way. By referring the dispute to TDS you agree to be bound by the adjudicator’s decision. We are not able to reverse a decision made by an adjudicator because the disputed deposit will have been paid to the parties and we have no legal authority for retrieval or redistribution.

The complaints procedure allows us to consider any concerns you may have about the way TDS handled your dispute. We can only accept a complaint if:

  • - the adjudicator did not take into account evidence we received within the timescales stated in the Scheme Rules; or
  • - the adjudicator made an error in Law; or
  • - the adjudicator made an error in fact.

Click here for more details about complaints procedures.