Last reviewed: December 2020
For a lot of students, moving into rented accommodation and paying a deposit will be a new experience. It’s important to understand what your deposit is for and what it covers. With this in mind, we’ve provided some frequently asked questions to help you understand what might be required when signing your new contract.
What is a deposit?
A deposit is an amount paid by you at the start of your tenancy. This covers your landlord for any damage you may cause to the property, and to cover anything that goes missing.
How much will my deposit be?
The deposit is usually one month’s rent, but can vary. It’s worth finding out exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay upfront before you sign a contract.
What happens to my deposit and is it protected?
If your rent agreement is on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP) within 30 days of receiving it. This means that your landlord or letting agent is legally obliged to take out protection for your deposit. Make sure you ask your landlord or letting agent to provide proof of what scheme your deposit is held in.
How do I get my full deposit back?
When you move out, you're entitled to receive the deposit back in full as long as you haven’t caused damage to the property or any fittings, paid your rent and bills, and met the terms outlined in your tenancy agreement. If under a joint tenancy, check the rules in the contract as you could all be responsible for damage and therefore the loss of the deposit could be shared between you.
What if I damage the property?
If both parties agree that something has been damaged, then estimates must be given for the cost to repair or replace. The landlord or letting agent should then inform the tenant of the deductions to the deposit.
How can I protect my deposit?
Once you’ve moved into your new house, there are a number of ways you can try and ensure that you get your deposit back in full. Here are a few to consider:
- Inventory - Agree an inventory with your landlord and read it carefully to make sure it matches the condition of the property when you move in.
- Take photos – Using photographic evidence can play a big part in keeping your deposit. Take dated photos at the start and end of your tenancy, so that the landlord is aware of any damage which may have been caused by previous tenants.
- Repairs - Try to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in by dealing with any small breakages yourself as they happen.
What if the landlord refuses to pay back my deposit?
If at the end of your tenancy your landlord is reluctant to return your money, identify which scheme your deposit is protected under by checking your tenancy agreement. You can then get in touch with the relevant scheme and they will then look into the matter independently and make a decision. This process is free and a decision will be based on factors such as damage to the property, as well as general wear and tear.
Protecting your things
It's important to protect the contents of your student home. Whether you’re living in halls or a shared house, student contents insurance protects your possessions against risks such as fire, theft, flood, malicious damage and more. Replacing belongings is not only a hassle, but potentially very expensive – especially when you’re living on a student budget. Taking out student contents insurance means you won’t end up out of pocket should anything unexpected happen.
Your student contents insurance may include tenants’ liability insurance (TLI) too. This provides cover for if you were to damage the landlord’s fixtures and fittings during the tenancy term. By making a claim to repair the damage under the TLI section of your contents insurance policy, this will mean that the cost of the damage won’t be deducted from your deposit at the end of the tenancy.