Tenancy deposit checklist for tenants

publication date: Apr 19, 2013


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It is a legal requirement that your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit in a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme, like Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), if your home is rented on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement.

As a tenant, you will want to do all you can to ensure your tenancy deposit is returned to you in full at the end of the tenancy, less any agreed deductions. This checklist is designed to help you understand your responsibilities and follow the processes correctly to avoid deposit disputes.

Important Note: From 1st June 2019, new AST tenancies signed and entered into after this date, landlords in England are not permitted to ask for a deposit that exceeds the equivalent of 5 weeks' rent (or 6 weeks if your annual rent is £50,000 or more). It is called the deposit cap. If you are concerned that your deposit is too high, you can check using this online calculator: Deposit Cap Calculator.

  Start of the tenancy
Check if your tenancy is an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)’. If it is, your deposit must be protected in a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme.  Read this: Is my tenancy an assured shorthold tenancy?  

Check your deposit has been protected by the landlord or letting agent, within 30 days of paying the deposit, with one of the Government-approved TDP schemes: Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), DPS, MyDeposits.

  Have you been charged any fees? The Tenant Fees Act came into effect in England on 1st June 2019 which banned landlords and letting agents from charging certain fees to tenants. Refer to this Tenant Fees Matrix to see what tenants can and can’t be charged in England and Wales.

Has your landlord or letting agent given you the Prescribed Information, about the deposit protection, within 30 days of you paying the deposit? This is a legal requirement.

  Does the Prescribed Information include an official leaflet from the Scheme administrator– such as this one from TDS?

Does your tenancy agreement state where your tenancy deposit is protected?

Does your tenancy agreement state what your tenancy deposit can be used for? This is sometimes known as a deposit-use clause.

Did your landlord or letting agent give you an inventory/check-in report confirming the contents, cleanliness, and a schedule of condition of all areas of the property when you moved in?

Have you checked that the inventory/check-in report is correct and informed your landlord or letting agent of any differences, within the set timescale?

Have you signed and dated your inventory/check-in report, and returned a copy to your landlord or letting agent and kept a copy for yourself?

Check your tenancy agreement so that you are clear on your responsibilities and obligations regarding the property (including the garden and any outdoor spaces).

Are there actions you need to take if you plan to go away, such as keep the boiler on? Keep a note of these too.

Create a folder to keep all tenancy paperwork in one safe place, and an email folder for all online communications.

  During the tenancy

Keep a written record of all communications with the landlord during the tenancy. This will help you if a deposit dispute is made later on.

If you wish to make any changes to the property, obtain and keep ‘expressed written permission’ from the landlord including agreeing how the property is to be returned at the end of the tenancy.

Whist in England additional ‘pet deposits’ cannot be taken if the maximum amount of deposit has already been taken, due to the deposit cap; you must obtain and keep written permission if you intend to keep a pet at the property.

Maintain the condition of property inside and out, in accordance with your tenancy responsibilities.

Have you changed your contact details (mobile number or email)? If so, inform your landlord or letting agent.

  End of the tenancy

Check your tenancy agreement as to notice provisions to leave.

After you give notice to leave the property, ask your landlord or letting agent to inspect the property – ideally with you. Ask them to let you know of any potential deposit deductions that you could resolve before leaving.

Check your tenancy agreement to find out what responsibilities you have agreed to when leaving the property.

Thoroughly check the condition of the property against the inventory/check-in report before you leave. Take any photos for evidence.

How clean are you expected to leave the property at the end of the tenancy? Refer to the inventory/check-in report which was agreed at the start of the tenancy; this should give you a good idea of how clean the property was when you moved in and therefore how clean the landlord expects the property to be when you move out.

Has your landlord notified you promptly if they intend to make deductions from the deposit

  Deductions from the deposit
Does the tenancy agreement outline what deductions can be made from the deposit?

Are you only being charged to return the property to the state it should have been in when you left, and not paying for improvements (betterment)?

Has the landlord incorporated the value of ‘fair wear and tear’ into damage or redecoration costs?

Has the landlord justified the costs of deductions with receipts, quotes, or invoices?

If you disagree with deductions, have you negotiated with the landlord to try and reach agreement?

If there is no other way to reach agreement, consider raising a tenancy deposit dispute. An impartial adjudicator from the scheme that protects your deposit will decide how much is deducted based on the evidence provided by you and your landlord. 

Raise the dispute within three months of the end of the tenancy. Send relevant documents as evidence to support your case such as inventories, photos and communications with the landlord.

If you would like to know more about tenancy deposits and disputes, visit Tenancy Deposit Scheme for free guides, blogs, videos and real-life case studies.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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