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33 My landlord won't return my damage deposit. What are my rights?

Your landlord should return your damage deposit if they have checked your property and agreed that no damage had been caused. If your landlord claims that you are responsible for damage, you should make sure that they prepared an initial inventory.

If your landlord decides that there is some slight wear and tear, you should argue that your landlord should expect a reasonable level of wear and tear (unless the tenancy agreement states that any wear and tear could endanger the return of your deposit).

If your landlord continues to keep your deposit, you should write to them asking for the return of your deposit within 14 days. You should also say that if your landlord does not return your deposit, you will recover it in the Small Claims Court.

If you don't agree with the landlord's description of the condition of your property, you should look over your tenancy agreement and check that:

  • firstly, there is a clause that allows your landlord to keep your damage deposit; and
  • secondly, the items that your landlord is keeping the deposit for are specifically mentioned.

Unless the agreement includes one or other of these your landlord does not have the right to keep your deposit. However, you must not withhold a month's rent in place of the damage deposit – this would be illegal. You should seek legal advice if you are planning to do this.

If you need help dealing with a retained deposit, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend that you speak to one of our housing advisers on 0845 345 4 345 for specialist advice. Telephone specialist advice is only available if you qualify for legal aid.


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