Tenants Information & FAQs

  • Overview for tenants
  • FAQs | Deposit protection
  • FAQs | End of tenancy
  • FAQs | Deposit disputes
  • FAQs | Complaints 

Are you renting from a private landlord?

Do you know if you'll get your deposit back?

At the Tenancy Deposit Scheme we protect over a million deposits from being lost or unfairly withheld from tenants.

If you're renting from a private landlord with an assured shorthold tenancy your deposit should be protected in a scheme such as ours. Follow the links on the left for more information. 

Find out if your deposit is protected with us and access your deposit protection record here

Top tips for tenants infographic

Tenancy deposit protection FAQs

Is my deposit protected by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

Click here to search the TDS database for your deposit.

If you have a Tenancy Deposit Protection Certificate, enter the code shown on the certificate. Alternatively you can enter your surname, the deposit amount, the tenancy postcode, and the date the tenancy started. 

You should also have details of your deposit protection written in your tenancy agreement and in paperwork you received at the start of the tenancy called 'prescribed information'.

Should my deposit be protected?

Deposits need to be protected on the standard type of tenancy with private landlords, called an 'assured shorthold tenancy'. 

Other types of tenancy do exist, so check the paperwork if you're not sure. If you are a lodger (living with the landlord and renting a room) it is not an AST and the deposit doesn't need to be protected. 

My landlord didn't protect my deposit. What should I do?

There are three deposit protection schemes so if you cannot find it with TDS click here to use the Shelter Deposit Checker.

If your landlord hasn't protected your deposit please seek legal advice. Landlords who don't protect deposits are subject to a fine of between one and three times the deposit, must return the deposit in full and face restrictions on evicting the tenant.

What is a tenancy deposit?

A tenancy deposit is money paid by a tenant to their landlord. It is held as security in case the tenant doesn't meet their responsibilities in the tenancy agreement. 

The deposit should be paid back to the tenant when their tenancy ends, unless they have broken the terms of their agreement and incurred costs for the landlord. Common reasons for withholding money from the deposit are:

  • Cleaning
  • Damage
  • Unpaid rent

Is my tenancy an assured shorthold tenancy?

An assured shorthold tenancy is the normal tenancy for renting from a private landlord. The key features of an AST are:

  • it began on or after 15 January 1989;
  • the annual rent does not exceed £100,000;
  • the house or flat is let as separate accommodation; and
  • it is the tenant’s main home.

This is defined by the Housing Act 1988 (as amended).

What is prescribed information?

When your deposit is protected your landlord or agent must give you written details of your protection and a leaflet explaining how the scheme works. This is prescribed information. It must be issued within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Click here to download the Tenancy Deposit Scheme leaflet, What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

Do holding deposits need to be protected?

No. A holding deposit is just used to reserve a property which you want to rent and is not held against the tenancy agreement. For convenience your agent might keep the holding deposit to use as the tenancy deposit. 

Do 'pet deposits' need to be protected?

Yes. If you have a pet and your landlord asks for an extra deposit it must be protected.

When did the tenancy deposit protection schemes start?

Deposit protection law came into force on 6 April 2007. 

What if someone else pays my deposit?

The person paying the deposit on the tenant's behalf is called a “relevant person”,  e.g. a local authority, employer, parent or guarantor. They don't need to be entered into the TDS database but should be given the prescribed information to tell them how the money is protected. 

My tenancy is ending FAQs

How do I get my tenancy deposit back?

If your deposit is protected with TDS Insured, then your landlord or agent holds your deposit. You should contact them requesting the deposit as soon as possible after your tenancy ends. 

If you are not sure who holds the deposit, check the tenancy agreement and the prescribed information you received at the start of the tenancy.

You only need to contact TDS if you have a dispute with your landlord over charges from your deposit.

How long does my landlord have to return my deposit?

Your landlord or agent should return the deposit within 10 calendar days of you requesting it.

If you do not receive your deposit within this time frame, talk to your landlord or letting agent first. If you still haven't received the deposit, you should consider raising a dispute with TDS.

What can my landlord keep my deposit for?

Your landlord can only deduct money from your deposit if you have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement leaving the landlord worse off. Common reasons for deductions are:

  • Cleaning
  • Damage
  • Redecoration
  • Unpaid rent

The landlord can only claim to restore themselves to the position they would have been in had you met the terms of your agreeement.  The normal decline in condition of the property and its contents ("fair wear and tear") cannot be charged to the tenant, and must be factored in to the amount charged for repairs, redecoration, or replacements.

For example, if you have broken a five year old sofa you should be charged the value of the five year old sofa and not the value of a brand new one. 

What if the landlord takes money off my deposit?

If the landlord wishes to withhold some or all of the deposit, they should tell you as soon as possible after the tenancy has ended. The parties should discuss the matter to reach agreement on how the deposit is to be split. Most disputes are resolved informally in this way. But if the deposit has not been returned to the tenant within 10 days of the tenant asking for it, any of the parties can ask TDS to resolve the dispute.  

If there is a dispute, what happens to the deposit?

Once TDS has been asked to resolve a deposit dispute, the landlord or the agent must send the disputed deposit amount to TDS. This is required by law and failure to do so within ten calendar days of TDS requesting it be paid into the scheme, may result in TDS membership being terminated. The landlord or letting agent should release any undisputed amount accordingly.

What happens to the interest on the deposit?

You should check your tenancy agreement as this will tell you what will happen to the interest. When a disputed deposit is paid to TDS, no interest is paid.

It's been 10 days and my landlord/agent has not informed me of any deductions. Does this mean that I should get my full deposit back now?

Some tenancy agreements give timescales for when an agent/landlord should inform a tenant if they want to deduct money from the deposit. These timescales are designed to add an element of structure at the end of the tenancy. A tenant is unlikey to get their deposit back by default if they are not told within the timeframe specified in their tenancy agreement. You should raise a dispute if the timescale isn't met.

I have a dispute FAQs

What will happen if I ask TDS to resolve a deposit 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 the landlord does not respond to a dispute, we treat this as consent and will deal with the dispute anyway. 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.

I am in dispute over other matters, not just the 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 our Contact Centre 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: complaints@tenancydepositscheme.com

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.

I have a complaint about the conduct of my landlord or letting agent

TDS cannot resolve disputes between individual tenants, complaints about the conduct of letting agents, managing agents or landlords, or other disputes that are not about deductions from the deposit. 

If your dispute is with an agent that is a member of a professional body, you may wish to contact them.  

If your dispute is about an agent who is not a member of a professional body or if it is about a landlord, please ask for help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, housing advice centre, law centre or other advice organisation.