Some agents and landlords will ask you to pay a small holding deposit to take a property off the market while you are deciding whether or not to sign an agreement with them. This is perfectly legal, but if you decide not to take the house after all, it will usually not be returnable.
This is different to the damage deposit, which you will usually have to pay when you sign the contract. This is usually about a month’s rent per person and must, by law, be protected by a deposit protection scheme – for more information on these, see below.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes - this clip tells how to maximise your chances of getting your deposit back in full at the end of your tenancy:
check whether your tenancy deposit is protected!
If you are renting under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy your landlord should protect your deposit in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receipt. If he or she doesn't you could claim compensation of up to 3 times the amount of your deposit.
You can check your deposit online. There are links below to check each of the approved schemes. If you don't know which scheme has been used, ask your Landlord, or check all three. You will need to have your tenancy details handy before you start.
If your deposit IS NOT protected, contact advice(su) for advice on what to do next.
See also our info guide Deposits & Deposit Schemes for more information on deposits and details of the three government registered deposit schemes.