Getting Your Accommodation Deposit Back

At this time of year you might be preparing to move out of rented accommodation for the summer. This is a brief guide to getting your deposit back.

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At this time of year you might be preparing to move out of rented accommodation for the summer. This is a brief guide to getting your deposit back.

It's common for tenants to pay a deposit when renting privately in the UK, at the end of your tenancy the deposit should be returned to you provided the property isn’t damaged.

To help you navigate this process and increase your chances of reclaiming your deposit, we have compiled a guide below. Let's dive in!

  • Review Your Tenancy Agreement/Contract

When you initially rented your accommodation, you probably signed a tenancy agreement or contract. These are usually sent to you in email or paper copy. Have a look at this document and note the terms of our deposit, including how much you paid, the details of the protection scheme, and any conditions for its return.

Your contract will also tell you how to end your contract which usually involves giving your landlord or their agent notice that you want to leave the contract.

  • Check Your Inventory

Ideally, at the start of your tenancy, you or your landlord would have taken photographs of each room and highlighted existing signs of wear and tear/damage. This is sometimes called an inventory and may have been sent to you over email. If  at the end of your tenancy you and your landlord disagree that damage to the property was there when you moved in you could refer to the inventory to check. 

  • Cleaning and Tidying

To make sure you get as much of your deposit retuned as possible you should leave your accommodation in a clean and tidy condition. Thoroughly clean all rooms, including appliances, furniture, and communal areas. Pay particular attention to kitchens, bathrooms, and shared spaces. Remove any personal belongings and dispose of waste responsibly.

You might want to donate items that you aren’t likely to use to a charity shop such as the British Heart Foundation or using sharing apps such as OLIO instead of throwing it away.

  • Addressing Damages

If there are any damages beyond reasonable wear and tear, consider rectifying them yourself or informing your landlord promptly. It is generally more cost-effective to address minor repairs before your departure. This proactive approach demonstrates responsibility and may prevent deductions from your deposit.

  • Conduct a Final Inspection

Request a final inspection with your landlord or their representative present. Compare the current condition of the property with the initial documentation you collected (step 2). Discuss any discrepancies or issues that may affect the deposit refund. Taking part in the inspection ensures transparency and an opportunity to address concerns.

It is best to follow up an verbal conversation in an email in case you need to refer back to it.

If you can’t conduct a final inspection with your landlord or their agent you should take photos of the property when you leave do you can refer back to them.

  • Deposit Protection Scheme

In the UK, landlords are legally obligated to protect your deposit through a government-approved deposit protection scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Your landlord is required to have protected your deposit in one of these schemes within 30 days of you initially paying the deposit and send you information about it. Upon completion of your tenancy, the scheme will facilitate the return of your deposit in a fair manner.

A landlord cannot usually serve a valid section 21 notice, evicting you from the property, if they didn’t protect your deposit, didn’t protect it on time or didn’t send you information about the scheme. These are sometimes called a no fault eviction.

You can consider a compensation claim against a landlord or agent who did not protect your deposit or protected it late. [Link to the Shelter UK housing charity website]

  • Disputes

If you disagree with the deductions your landlord proposes to make, you can use the alternative dispute resolution process offered by your deposit protection scheme. Both you and your landlord will have the opportunity to present evidence, and an impartial adjudicator will make a decision.

  • Follow Up and Keep Records

After you’ve moved out continue to communicate with your landlord or agent. If you call them follow up with an email of what has been agreed and continue to check in with the to ensure your deposit is returned within the specified timeframe.


Read our full housing guide here 

If you need any further advice you can contact the GSU Advice Service for free, confidential advice.

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