The subject of deposits has always been one of a great many grey areas for both landlords and tenants alike. Of course, given the fact that every penny of the deposit money technically belongs to the tenant or lodger, it is primarily in their best interests to ensure they fully understand their rights and obligations.

From carrying out a comprehensive check in inventory before moving in right through to knowing when the time comes to seek legal advice, lodgers must ensure they understand where they stand. Contrary to popular belief and assumption, negotiating the return of a deposit if you are a lodger, living in student halls or living at the same property as your landlord is a slightly different process to that of the standard rental property tenant.

Request in Writing

When the time comes to begin negotiating the return of your deposit, the first thing to do is put your request in writing.  Write directly to the landlord and ask them to return the deposit, being sure to keep copies of all correspondence in both directions. You may at a later time be required to produce evidence of such requests, so it’s a good idea to hold onto it.

What’s different about this particular scenario is the way in which lodgers are not considered short-hold tenants, which means the landlord is not under any obligation to protect deposits using an appropriate tenancy deposit scheme. This doesn’t necessarily affect your actual rights when it comes to your deposit in general, but can affect the negotiation and deposit return processes.

Establish a Deadline

Most professional landlord inventory services in the UK agree that problems generally tend to occur when lodgers are not direct and/or demanding enough when it comes to requesting what is rightfully theirs. If the deposit should have been returned but has not, the best course of action is to again begin with a written request for its immediate return with a specified deadline – something like two weeks. You can also take the opportunity to ask in the letter why the deposit has not yet been refunded, along with whether or not you can expect any deductions to be made and the respective reasons.

If unsure how to go about this, there are plenty of useful templates available online.


Your landlord is required to clearly list and explain any deductions to be taken from your deposit. If they do so and you fully agree that the deductions are fair, you can confirm your agreement and arrange for the remaining deposit to be refunded. If deductions are made though no breakdown or explanation is provided, you must request that this is done urgently. And if there are any deductions you do not agree with, you will need to dispute them with the landlord – once again in writing.

Consider Court Action

The very final step in the process if you find yourself dealing with a wholly uncooperative landlord is to consider taking court action against them. Contrary to popular belief, the court process with regard to recovering deposits and you might not need to personally appear in court at all. For your claim to be successful, you’ll need to provide plenty of documented evidence and paperwork of your attempts to recover your deposit manually and the fact that you are indeed entitled to the refund you are claiming.

If you’re a landlord looking to remove the stress from the inventory process, find out how No Letting Go can help.

Photo sources: Flickr/UpSticksNGo Crew – pixabay

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