Tenants Information & FAQs
Information for tenants
FAQs: Tenancy deposit protection
FAQs: My tenancy is ending
FAQs: I have a dispute
FAQs: I have a complaint
Information for tenants
If you have paid a deposit on an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord or agent must protect it with a government approved scheme, such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
When tenancies come to an end, sometimes there is disagreement over how the deposit is used. If your deposit is protected with TDS you can refer the dispute to us and an impartial adjudicator will decide how the deposit is divided.
Here you will find the answers to some of our most Frequently Asked Questions about how the scheme works; click on one of the FAQ tabs on the left to read more.
You can also find a wealth of information about TDS across this website, and beyond.
Tenancy deposit protection FAQs
What is tenancy deposit protection?
Deposits on assured shorthold tenancies (AST's) must be protected with a government approved scheme.
The landlord or agent must protect the deposit and issue prescribed information to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit.
If a tenant thinks that their deposit is being withheld unfairly at the end of the tenancy they can raise a dispute through the scheme, free of charge. An impartial adjudicator will then decide how the deposit should be divided based on the evidence provided.
What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales operated by The Dispute Service Ltd. The Dispute Service is an industry owned, not for profit company.
Is my deposit protected by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
If you received a Tenancy Deposit Protection Certificate, enter the code number from that certificate.Alternatively you can enter your surname, the deposit amount, the tenancy postcode, and the date the tenancy started.
What happens if my deposit is not protected by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
Three schemes exist to protect tenancy deposits. Find out whether the landlord or agent has protected it with a different scheme by asking the landlord or agent, or by contacting the other schemes.
Where is my deposit?
If protected with TDS, the landlord or letting agent holds the deposit during the tenancy. TDS is an insurance backed scheme, meaning deposits are protected by our insurance. Deposit money is only ever handed to us if a dispute arises at the end of the tenancy. In this case the disputed amount is paid to us to hold whilst the dispute is being resolved and then to distribute according to our adjudicator's decision.
One 'custodial' scheme does exist which always keeps hold of the deposit, however this is not the case with TDS.
What is a "tenancy deposit"?
A tenancy deposit is a sum of money which a landlord requires a tenant to pay at the start of the tenancy or which the landlord holds over from a previous tenancy with the same tenant. The money is security in case the tenant does not meet their obligations in connection with the tenancy.
Should my deposit be protected?
All deposits taken by landlords in relation to assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected. This includes 'pet' deposits and 'garage' deposits, but does not include holding deposits. (See more about these types of deposits below)
What is an assured shorthold tenancy?
An assured shorthold tenancy is the usual tenancy for a private tenant renting from a private landlord; where the tenancy 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 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 is required to provide you with specific details of your protection and a scheme leaflet explaining how the scheme works. This is called prescribed information. It must be issued within 30 days of receiving the deposit.
Do holding deposits need to be protected?
No. A holding deposit is not a tenancy deposit for the purposes of section 212 of the Housing Act 2004 and does not need to be protected.
Do 'pet deposits' need to be protected?
Yes, if it is being paid to a landlord for the purpose of ensuring that the house is properly cleaned at the end of the tenancy, and with a view to returning it to the tenant if the house is clean, then it is a deposit that needs to be protected "Pet deposits" are a form of tenancy deposit within the definition contained in section 212(8) of the 2004 Housing Act.
Do 'garage deposits' need to be protected?
Yes, if it is being paid to a landlord for the purpose of ensuring that the garage is properly maintained, and with a view to returning the deposit to the tenant if it is in good order, then it is a deposit that needs to be protected. "Garage deposits" are also a form of tenancy deposit within the definition contained in section 212(8) of the 2004 Housing Act.
How should deposits paid in instalments be protected?
TDS members should protect the deposit, even if it's paid to them in instalments. The landlord or agent should protect the deposit on the basis of the total amount of the deposit expected to be received for the tenancy over its life and ensure that the instalments are detailed in the tenancy agreement. If an instalment isn't paid and this will affect the sum registered, the landlord or agent should contact TDS to adjust the protection certificate.
What happens when the deposit is paid on behalf of the tenant?
The person paying the deposit on the tenant's behalf will be considered a “relevant person”. This is a person, company or organisation who, in accordance with arrangements made with the tenant, paid the deposit on behalf of the tenant e.g. a local authority, employer, parent or guarantor. This relationship does not need to be entered on to the TDS tenancy database, but the landlord will need to provide this person with prescribed information.
My tenancy is ending FAQs
Who do I get my deposit from?
TDS does not hold your deposit. Your Agent or Landlord does and you will need to ask them for it to be returned. Your tenancy agreement will tell you who holds the deposit.
How long should I have to wait to get my deposit back?
Tenants should expect to receive their deposit within ten calendar days of requesting it from the deposit holder. 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 if the landlord or letting agent makes deductions from 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?
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 refuses to make a decision, we 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 I have received at TDS
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 0845 226 7837.
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 up happy, please send us your complaint within 28 calendar days of the problem arising. Please do this by email or letter using the addresses on the front of this leaflet. Putting your complaint in writing will help us understand it better and respond fully. Our email address for complaints is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a compliant about a recent 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.
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.