One in five renters expects to lose their depositUK tenants put down an average deposit of £549

09 March 2016

To Let

One in five rental sector tenants expects never to see their deposit again after handing it over, according to research.

The survey carried out for law firm Slater and Gordon also found nearly three quarters of tenants asked had struggled to get back the sums they felt they were owed.

Are you having difficulty getting your deposit back? You can use our guide on what to do if your landlord won't return your security deposit.

More damage than deposit could cover

But the survey of more than 1,000 tenants and 500 landlords also found many landlords said tenants had caused more damage than the security deposit could cover. 

Some 79% of landlords said they wished they had asked for bigger deposits from their tenants after damage to their property was not covered - including damage to the carpets, walls, appliances and furniture.

The most common reasons landlords and letting agencies gave for refusing to hand back a deposit were stains on the carpet, chipped paint and damaged wallpaper, broken or damaged furniture and broken or damaged windows, the survey found.

Is your deposit protected?

Four in 10 tenants said they had received none of their deposit back when leaving a property, with the average UK tenant having put down a security deposit of £549.

To give yourself the best chance of getting your security deposit back, you should:

  • pay your rent on time as agreed
  • tell your landlord when things need fixing to avoid bigger problems later (for example, a leaking pipe, if not maintained, could make a ceiling collapse)
  • do basic maintenance like changing light bulbs or smoke alarm batteries.

According to housing charity Shelter, one in five private renters in England don’t know if their deposit is protected.

Make sure any deposit given is paid into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, which can act as a mediator if any dispute arises.

If your landlord doesn't protect your deposit, a court can order them to pay you a penalty of up to three times the deposit - although this is rare.

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