Upfront costs and deposits

Most landlords charge a tenancy deposit plus at least a month’s rent in advance. This covers the costs of breakages and any missed rent.

The deposit is your money. It should be returned to you in full at the end of the tenancy unless your landlord has a reason to make deductions.

Your landlord must protect your deposit in an approved scheme within 30 days of you paying. They should give you written information about which scheme they used. You could get compensation if your landlord breaks these rules.

Your landlord or letting agent cannot charge you for things like: 

  • references
  • administration
  • credit checks
  • immigration checks
  • renewing your tenancy when your fixed term contract ends.

Protecting your deposit

Landlords are required to protect your tenancy deposit in a registered scheme.

A landlord is entitled to charge a deposit at the start of a tenancy. This gives them access to a sum of money to cover their costs if you damage the property or fail to pay all the rent.  You might expect this deposit to be equivalent to around two months’ rent. This is a separate sum to rent in advance – most landlords will ask for the first month’s rent to be paid upfront in addition.

If you think your landlord hasn't protected your deposit, check with the tenancy deposit schemes on GOV.UK to check that it hasn't been protected. If you landlord hasn't put your deposit into a protected scheme we advise you to seek legal advice.

Inventories

To make a claim against the deposit, the landlord must be able to show that there has been damage, or that there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement conditions.

To avoid any disagreements at the end of the tenancy, it is best if you ask for an inventory from the landlord at the start, and you both sign it. An inventory is a list of all the items in the property, and the condition they're in before you move in. It's also a good idea to take photographs, particularly if there is any existing damage which the landlord does not intend to put right before you move in.

Make sure you have written records of all the rent payments you make, or that they show clearly on your bank statement if you pay by Direct Debit or bank transfer.

Deposit scheme

If your landlord has taken a deposit from you, they must protect it by registering it with one of three independent schemes within the first 30 days of the tenancy. This is so that it's easier for you to get back any money you're legitimately owed at the end of the tenancy.

If there's a dispute between you and your landlord about how much you should be given back, the deposit protection scheme administrators will decide what is correct.

Your landlord should tell you which scheme they have placed your deposit in. You can check with each of the schemes yourself by using these links:

At the end of the tenancy, your landlord should agree with you how much of your deposit should be repaid to you. They should pay you this amount within 10 days of it being agreed. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can apply to your tenancy deposit protection scheme’s dispute resolution service. You should provide as much evidence as possible.