Ask TDS: “When should my landlord return my deposit?”

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; we offer both insured and custodial protection. We also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the deductions from the tenancy deposits that we protect. This article has been written in response to a tenant’s query: “When should my landlord return my deposit?”

Once a tenancy has ended, tenants are often very keen to have their deposit returned in a timely manner. The question is often asked, when will I get my deposit, or more often: how quickly will I get my deposit back?

Deposit Protection Ticked CheckboxRules surrounding returning a deposit

If your landlord holds your deposit (so should be protected in the Insured scheme), the landlord should pay your deposit back within 10 days of your request for the deposit to be returned. A tenant cannot request the return of their deposit before the tenancy ends.

If your deposit is being held in a custodial scheme, you can request its return directly through the scheme. We will ask your landlord or agent to respond to the request, and if they agree we will process the payment quickly, usually within 2 working days.

The deposit protection services will not be able to return the deposit if it is protected in an insurance scheme, as the deposit will be in your landlord’s possession. If a landlord is using an insurance based scheme, once they receive your request of repayment they will then either repay the deposit or let you know what they intend to deduct for things like cleaning, damage or outstanding rent.

when should my landlord return my deposit

Deposit Protection Money DeductionsWhat if my landlord is seeking deductions from my deposit?

If your landlord is seeking deductions to an issue with your tenancy, such as a cleaning issue, a decoration issue, or rent arrears, they should write to you and inform you of the amount they believe they are entitled to, and why. If you are unclear what the deductions are for, you should seek clarity from your landlord or agent. The deposit scheme will not have any information about the landlord’s claim at that point.

Deposit Protection GavelAlternative Dispute Resolution

If you believe that the landlord’s claim to money from the deposit is fair, then you and the landlord can agree the figure between you. If however you do not agree with the deductions or you cannot agree with the amount for the deductions, then you may need to use a dispute service. This service is provided free of charge by the scheme that protected your deposit, but you should exhaust all possibilities to resolve the dispute directly with your landlord or agent first. We find that most disputes can be resolved quickly through clear communication between the parties.

If you do ask the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to resolve the dispute, the adjudicator will look over the evidence provided by both the tenant and the landlord and will hold the disputed amount during the adjudication process. Any decision made by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is final, although you or your landlord may choose to take the matter further by going to court.

Deposit Protection Justice ScalesWhen to take a dispute further

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is only able to provide dispute resolution for matters concerning the deposit. If a tenant wishes to make a counter claim, they will need to take that matter to court. As the deposit is the tenant’s money held in security by the landlord against the tenant’s obligations under the tenancy agreement, we are unable to consider any claims the tenant may have against the landlord.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme regularly publishes case studies of previous disputes, and you can find our guide on how to submit a dispute here. We recommend that landlords, agents and tenants engage in open communication throughout the tenancy so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and expectations so as to prevent disputes from arising. Indeed less than 1% of tenancies protected with TDS end in dispute.

For our landlord tips on best practice please click here, for tenant tips please view our tenant FAQ page.