Student Tenancy Deposits
Everything You Need to Know About Student Tenancy Deposits
You’ve probably heard of a tenancy deposit, and if you’re a student that has rented a property, you’ve most likely even paid one. But what actually is a tenancy deposit?
We at Roome have compiled this guide to answer all your questions on student tenancy deposits: from the different types of tenancy deposit, to how much you should expect to pay, to what you should do if you don’t get it all back!
What is a tenancy deposit?
Let’s jump straight in with the basics… what is a tenancy deposit? A tenancy deposit is a sum of money that you pay to your landlord or letting agency prior to the start of your tenancy. This sum is a security, in case you as the tenant do not abide by the terms of your tenancy agreement (for example, by damaging the property).
How much do I pay, and what does it cover?
The amount that you pay will be stipulated and paid before the commencement date of your tenancy, and should be equal to around four to six weeks rent.
Your landlord should lay out what the deposit covers in your tenancy agreement, which will also detail your responsibilities as a tenancy. If you do not fulfil these responsibilities, your landlord might not return your deposit in full.
When should I pay?
Make sure not to pay your deposit until the contract has been signed. This will hopefully help you to avoid falling victim to any rental deposit scams!
How should I pay?
Never pay your deposit in cash! Paying by card is best, as then you will have clear proof of payment. Ensure that you get a receipt from your landlord or letting agency.
Where does my deposit go?
If you are renting in relation to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, your landlord is legally obliged to protect your deposit with a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. Your landlord must do this within 30 days from receipt of your payment.
Tenancy deposit protection schemes are independent organisations that prevent your landlord from spending your deposit, and ensure that they cannot deduct any money without good reason.
You will receive confirmation once your deposit has been protected. If you don’t, you should check with your landlord or letting agent. This resource by Shelter can help you to determine whether your tenancy deposit has been protected or not.
There are three tenancy deposit schemes in the UK:
- TDS. TDS is the largest deposit scheme. Here is their guide for tenants.
- mydeposits. More information can be found here.
- DPS. There is a useful section for tenants on their website.
What should I do if my landlord has not protected my deposit?
If your deposit hasn’t been protected, you must take action as your landlord is acting illegally. This information pack created by Unipol and the National Union of Students gives advice on what to do if this is the case.
How do I make sure that I get my full deposit back at the end of my tenancy?
Contractually, you must return the property to the landlord in the same condition as it was when you moved in (although your contract should allow for ‘fair wear and tear’). Make sure that the house is cleaned to a good domestic or professional standard (check what your tenancy agreement stipulates) upon ending your tenancy.
When you move in, make a detailed log of the property’s condition, as well as the condition of any furnishings. Take photos of any marks, tears, etc. This will prevent you from being blamed for these at the end of your tenancy, as your landlord could use them to warrant a deduction from your deposit.
Tick off these tasks by the end of your tenancy for the best chances of getting your full deposit back:
- Make sure that all furniture present in your start of tenancy inventory report is present at the end of your tenancy.
- Clean all bedrooms and communal areas.
- Ensure that your toilet is descaled and bleached, and that your sink and shower are clean.
- Clean your hob and oven well.
- Defrost your freezer- ensure you leave enough time before the end of your tenancy to mop up the water.
- Remove all rubbish and personal items from the property. Failing to do so will usually incur a cost for you.
- Leave the garden in a fit state if this is a term in your tenancy agreement. Not all landlords will add this as a clause, but if yours has, make sure it is de-weeded and well-maintained.
- Return your keys on the day you move out.
When should I get my deposit back?
If your landlord is satisfied with the condition that you have left the property in, they must return your money within ten days of the tenancy ending. If they do not return it within the ten days, contact your protection scheme for advice.
If your landlord wishes to make deductions, they must still return the amount that they think you deserve back within this time frame. You may then proceed with challenging deductions if you feel they were unwarranted.
What should I do if I feel that my landlord has made a deduction unfairly?
If you believe that your landlord has made a deduction from your deposit that is unfair, you have a few routes of action to choose from.
First off, you should get into contact with your landlord or letting agent to dispute the deduction has been made. Explain why you do not agree with the deduction, and provide evidence to back up your claim. Keep a log of all correspondences with your landlord/letting agent on the matter.
You can also raise a dispute through your protection scheme. Find out which scheme your deposit is held by, and visit their website to work out your next steps. You will need to provide evidence, and so will your landlord. It usually takes at least a month for the scheme to make a verdict, which is final and cannot be changed. This YouTube video will show you how to prepare evidence for disputing any reductions to your deposit.
You could also take legal action. This is the step to take if your deposit was not protected or if measures to resolve your dispute are not being accepted. This will usually be time-intensive and costly though.
What if my landlord doesn’t respond to my dispute?
If you either do not have the address or contact details of your landlord, or it has been two weeks since you asked your landlord to return the deducted monies, you may start a single claim process through your tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Your scheme will have you sign a statutory declaration form in the presence of a solicitor, who will charge you around £5 to act as your witness.
Once the scheme receives your application, they will allow the landlord a further two weeks to respond. If they still fail to do so, the scheme will pay your deposit to you in full within ten days.
We hope that this intensive guide answered all of your questions about tenancy deposits! For more information and tips, check out Shelter’s advice guides and articles.
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome