My landlord won't return my deposit. What can I do?

This information applies to Scotland

A tenancy deposit is a sum of money a tenant pays to a landlord (or letting agency acting on a landlord’s behalf) as security against, for example, rent arrears, damage to property, or removal of furniture by the tenant. A deposit must not be more than two months' rent.

All private landlords are required by law to put tenancy deposits into an approved tenancy deposit scheme.

When a deposit is paid into a scheme it is protected and there is a dispute resolution service available if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy about how the deposit should be paid back.

If you pay a deposit you should check the inventory of contents of the property you are renting (and the condition of the property and contents) before signing it. You may be held responsible for any discrepancies or damage and may forfeit some or all of your deposit when the tenancy ends. The inventory will be used as evidence if a dispute about the return of the tenancy deposit is referred to a dispute resolution service at the end of the tenancy.

A clause in the tenancy agreement covering the deposit may be challengeable because it is unfair, for example, a clause which does not allow for fair wear and tear.

For more information on tenancy deposits, see Finding accommodation.
For more information on court action, see What is a small claim.
For general information for tenants with problems, see Common problems with renting.

Moira Tasker