The Difference Between Holding Deposits and Tenancy Deposits (and Fees)

Confused about rental fees and costs? When you are about to rent a property, there are several different types of payment you will have to make. The main four are:

  • the holding deposit 
  • the tenancy deposit
  • rent in advance (usually one month’s worth)
  • fees

To help you understand where your money is going – and where it shouldn’t be going – we’ve written a short guide for tenants on these four costs.

Together these costs are known as the move-in moneys.

What Is a Holding Deposit?

The holding deposit is also sometimes called a holding fee. The rules for holding deposits are set in the Tenant Fees Act (2019), which we will call the TFA. 

A holding deposit is a refundable payment made by the tenant to the landlord or their agent. The holding deposit should only be placed once the general terms of the let are agreed. That means:

  • the move-in date
  • the terms of the tenancy agreement
  • the rent
  • the tenants 
  • the length of the fixed term
  • the rental period (e.g. monthly, weekly)

If the landlord wishes to change any of these things after you have paid the deposit, then you can refuse. If this prevents the tenancy going ahead, then you should receive the holding deposit back in full. 

One you have paid the holding deposit, the tenancy is taken to be agreed subject to referencing. The landlord should not proceed with other tenants, and must not accept any other holding deposits. 

The landlord or agent will hold your holding deposit while they run any referencing checks they may require. They may not charge you for referencing.

How Much Is a Holding Deposit?

The TFA capped holding deposits placed after 1st June 2019 at one week’s rent, maximum. Anything over that now constitutes a prohibited payment. 

Before the TFA came into force, we ran a quick poll of renters and found that 69% of tenants have paid over £500 for a holding deposit, with 47% having paid over £750!

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What Happens to My Holding Deposit?

Once the holding deposit is placed, three things can happen:

  • the tenancy goes ahead
  • the tenancy doesn’t go ahead because the landlord pulls out
  • The tenancy doesn’t go ahead because you pull out

It’s important to get the terms of the holding deposit in writing so that everyone knows what will happen in each of the three scenarios and how your holding deposit will be treated.

OpenRent’s holding deposit terms can be found here.

Landlords are only allowed to keep your holding deposit for 15 days, unless you agree another deadline in writing. If the landlord has failed to accept or reject your application by the deadline, then the money must be returned to you in full.

1. The Tenancy Goes Ahead

If the landlord is happy with your referencing report, they will go ahead with the tenancy. In this case, you get the holding deposit back.

You probably won’t see the money returned to your bank account, however. The money is usually put towards the the other move-in costs; namely, any rent paid in advance and the tenancy deposit.

So in practice, you don’t actually get the holding deposit returned to you. Rather, the value is simply taken off the amount you need to pay for the other move-in moneys. This is normal and nothing to worry about. 

2. The Tenancy Doesn’t Go Ahead Because the Landlord Pulls out

If the landlord decides not to proceed, then your holding deposit should be refunded in full. Landlords are no longer allowed to deduct any fees or costs of referencing from your holding deposit.

3. The Tenancy Doesn’t Go Ahead Because You Pull out

If you pull out, the landlord/agent is entitled to your holding deposit as forfeit. In this scenario, you don’t get your deposit back. It goes to the landlord or agent to cover them against any loss of time and money.

There is a chance they will refund you some or all of your deposit, but they are entitled to keep it. It is, of course, worth asking them to return it.

What is a Tenancy Deposit?

The tenancy deposit is sometimes called a security deposit. It a sum paid at the start of a tenancy. It is refunded to you at the end of the tenancy, but the landlord can make deductions from it to pay for:

  • the repair of any damage done to the property
  • permitted fees that are included in the tenancy agreement (e.g. replacing lost keys)

When you pay the tenancy deposit, the landlord must register it with a government-approved deposit protection scheme. They also have to send you information about the scheme they’ve used, how much money makes up the deposit, and how you can contest any deductions they may make.

This information is called the prescribed information. The landlord must give it to you within a time limit of 30-days from when you pay the deposit.

How Much Is a Tenancy Deposit?

The size of the tenancy deposit is limited by the TFA. It must be no more than 5 weeks’ rent. Here is a tool you can use to check how much five weeks’ rent is for your tenancy: the deposit calculator.

If your tenancy began after 1st June 2019, and you paid a deposit that is more than five weeks’ rent, then this is a prohibited payment and the landlord must refund you the excess amount immediately.

If you paid a tenancy deposit that is more than 5 weeks’ rent, but your tenancy began before 1st June 2019 then no action is needed until 1st June 2020. Your landlord must refund you the excess amount before 1st June 2020, as after this date, the new TFA rules apply to all existing tenancies.

What Can Be Deducted From a Tenancy Deposit

Your landlord can deduct any rent you owe when you move out. They can also make deductions for missing items that were supplied within a furnished property.

Deductions can be made for damage to the property, but not for normal wear and tear. There’s no precise definition of wear and tear, but if you use the property and its supplied furnishings in a normal, responsible way, then you shouldn’t have to pay any damages.

Shelter have a great guide on what is included in wear and tear.

What Are Rental Fees?

The TFA banned all mandatory rental fees except:

Optional fees are still legal, too, but they must be truly optional. An example of an optional fee might be that you either must return the property in a clean state or pay for a professional cleaning service. Because the fee can be avoided by cleaning yourself, the fee is optional and therefore permissible.

Before the TFA in England, agents and some landlords would try to charge fees for all sorts. The average fees tenants paid was a staggering £300.

OpenRent never charged admin or agency fees and we’re happy all tenants are now safe from being ripped off.

Rent in Advance

The last kind of move-in cost is rent in advance. Most tenancies in the UK require the rent to be paid in advance of the rental period the rent covers.

For example, if your rental period runs from the 10th of the month to the 9th of the following month, then you would need to pay your rent for the upcoming month before the 10th.

The alternative, paying for the month just gone, is called paying in arrears.

Paying More than One Month in Advance

When it comes to moving in, you must pay the first month’s rent in advance. You may also be asked or agree to paying additional months’ rent in advance. This happens quite often, but usually it is only one month’s rent that is required.

If you have agreed to pay more than one month’s rent in advance, then you won’t need to pay again until the time period that rent covers has elapsed.

For example, if you pay three months’ rent in advance for a tenancy beginning in September, then you won’t need to pay again until December’s rent is due.

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53 Replies to “The Difference Between Holding Deposits and Tenancy Deposits (and Fees)”

  1. Hi I recently put down a £200 deposit on a property and have now taken the £20 per tenant reference money off this does the rest of the £200 deposit go towards my first month rent and deposit ? For example if the property is £500 pcm and they want a £400 deposit do we pay £660 in total after putting the £200 deposit down ?

    1. Hi Jeff – the remaining holding deposit money goes towards the advertised total. E.g. if the advert said “Holding Deposit: £400” and you had £160 of the holding deposit left after referencing, then you would only need to pay the difference between the two sums.

  2. Are landlords obligated to either accept or reject our offer within a certain amount of time after the holding deposit is paid? We paid the holding deposit on January 6 and completed the referencing checks by January 16 for a February 24 proposed move-in date. The agency have confirmed they’ve passed the references to the landlord, and I keep chasing, but we haven’t received a confirmation yet. I’m getting nervous because our current lease ends at the end of the month.

  3. Hi
    I was asked to pay £250 holding fee which was deducted from the deposit £1500.
    So I paid a further £1250.
    The paperwork says the deposit is £1250.
    So what happened to the £250? Should this not be returned at end of tenancy as it was described as being included as part of the deposit?

    1. Hey Victoria, it’s very likely that holding deposit will go/has gone towards your first month’s rent. That’s the usual practice. It’s important, however, to make sure you have in writing exactly how you’re holding deposit will be treated in every scenario before you pay it. Let me know if that answers your question!

  4. I really like a place a gave 400 to secure the property, the agent was very pushy and made me sign a contract commencing in 2 weeks. After I realised the notice time on the other place was 1 month. I called straight away to ask this to be changed but I was told is not possible and if I decide no to go ahead I will loose my 400 because the landlord cannot wait 2 weeks. Please advise. I don’t want to loose my money.

    1. Hi Gina, Sorry to hear this. It’s hard for anyone to advise you without seeing the agreement you signed. In general though, if you’ve signed a tenancy agreement, then you are liable to pay the rent of the property as described by the tenancy agreement. So there may not be much you can do. But it really does depend on the details so get in touch with professional advisors like Shelter if you need further advice!

  5. Recently arrange a viewing via a letting agency for a property. The landlord conducted the viewing and I went for the place there and then and did all the paper work via her not the agency. I paid a deposit direct to the landlord via a bank account. Now 2 days later the agency have left me a voice mail saying about discussing a holding fee but I paid my deposit. Can the agency actually charge me anything/much when 95% was done direct through the landlord ?

    1. Hi Liam,

      First of all, I should say that making a bank transfer to someone claiming to be the landlord at the end of a viewing leaves you open to being the victim of a very common property scam! I’m glad to hear the landlord was legitimate on this occasion. Now to answer your question.

      You are in a very good position here in that if you’ve signed a tenancy agreement with the landlord and played a deposit, all with no mention of an agent, then the agent will find it very charge you for anything. The landlord may have stitched up their agent here, and could be in a bad position if they broke the terms of their agreement with the agent, but that’s all extraneous to your situation.

      The agent won’t be able to charge you a holding deposit, since there’s nothing to hold as you’ve already signed the tenancy agreement. They won’t be able to charge you referencing fees, as you are already the tenant, so referencing is now useless. They won’t be able to charge you for any other fees, either, since you can say you didn’t agree to them.

      This all assumes that the tenancy agreement you signed has no mention of the agent, paying fees, etc., so be sure to check it through. But if that is the case, then you can essentially just ignore the agent since you already have a tenancy.

  6. Hi, I am a german student coming to England for a month in April. I´m planing on renting a place on gumtree which requires a security deposit of £800. Now I´m pretty worried, if I pay the money up front from Germany, that the privat landlord rips me off. Do you have any advice what I could do to make the deposit payment as safe as possible? I don´t have the option to go and look at the apatment beforehand. Thank you for your help

    1. Hi Lorraine, Definitely don’t pay any money to anyone before you have viewed the property and ideally seen proof that they are the owner, or have the right to let the property. There are so many scams out there! We’d really recommend viewing a property before paying anything, or signing anything.

      If you find a property through, then we check that the landlord actually owns the property. We can also collect your deposit and won’t give it to the landlord until after you move in. This protects you from being scammed.

      Best of luck finding a home!

  7. I’ve recently seen a place I want but I believe that it slightly over priced, how can I trust the letting agency to negotiate with with speaking to the landlord. Is there any way around this or is that only possible with places like openrent where one is linked and communicates directly to the landlord?

    1. Hi Gee, unfortunately you can’t trust a letting agent to help you get a lower price. They want to achieve as high a price as possible for their landlord, so it’s not often in their interest to suggest charging less rent.

      One obvious exception is if the price is so overpriced that it is slowing down the let of the property. This makes the agent look bad, so in this case, they may try and suggest the landlord lowers the rent.

      Most letting agents won’t let you talk to the landlord directly (depending on what instructions the landlord gave), but you’re right that lets tenant’s speak directly to landlords, with no agent getting in the way.

      You can find OpenRent properties here.

  8. I’ve rented a studio flat with a holding deposit fee of £200. On the advertisement it said “all bills included”. It also said that in their description.

    After I paid my holding deposit. I got a call from the agency right away. And they told me I would have to pay a signing up fee of £500. Which I find ridiculous. This was never mentioned anywhere in the description. And they also told me that I will have to pay council tax for £90 which also was never mentioned in the advertisement. They are enclosing hidden fees. A signing up fee for £500 sounds like a scam to me.

    I don’t really know what to do know cause I would really like my £200 back. But I doubt I will get it back now. Is there anything I can do?

    1. Hi Jeanet, I recommend finding out which industry body (e.g. the Property Ombudsman, ARLA, etc.) the agent is a member of. They have codes of conduct for their members. Tell the agent that you will complain to their industry body about the council tax. If they do nothing, go ahead and complain.

      Then, for the signup fee, check the agent’s website and previous communications carefully. If they didn’t mention this £500 fee anywhere, then tell them that it is illegal not to display tenant fees upfront, and that you’re not paying it.

      Keep us up to date!

  9. Hi, I’m considering putting in an offer for a rental however I’ve been told I will need to pay £325 tenancy fee (£200 for myself and £125 for my guarantor) but if my offer is then not accepted will I get this money back?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Rose, that’s a question you need to ask the letting agent/landlord. For any move-in money you pay, you should get, in writing, the terms of how it will be treated.

      In this case, I would ask the agent/landlord to confirm in an email that, if they reject your application, then you will receive all of this money back. This is a big grey area and the government is currently trying to clear it up with the Tenant Fees Ban bill.

      The agent/landlord of the property may be using referencing fees (which they have called ‘tenancy fees’) as a holding deposit. You can read more about how holding deposits work here.

  10. Hi, We currently have a house for a year AST (August 17 to August 18) which has a £1700 deposit.
    We had to pay £1700 holding fee prior to tenancy which then became the deposit.
    Agents then demanded a decision on renewal in November 17 and we paid a holding fee of £200 (total prior to new tenancy being signed) for a years renewal which we paid and agreed to new tenancy for year 2.
    In February 18 they came back and wanted further £1700 holding fee payable to secure second year (same as we had already agreed and paid in Nov).
    We responded by saying we already have their agreement to extend. They have responded by issuing notice seeking possession at the end of year 1.
    Have they a right to demand a holding deposit from existing tenants?
    As we have already agreed to extend and paid them the sum demanded in November 17 we have their offer of tenancy for year 2. Can they go back on this with a notice or is the year 2 tenancy already binding? If so can they still give notice at the end of the first year?

    1. Hi Gary, short answer is, sounds like they’re being very dodgy and I would recommend seeking advice from Citizens Advice or Shelter. If they’ve taken £200 then you need to know how that is going to be treated. If they’re demanding more, then likewise.

      I’ll try and just respond to your two main questions here. The agent may ask for a holding deposit from existing tenants. It’s not something that’s usually done, but it could happen. The important thing is that you have in writing exactly how that holding deposit will be treated under all possible scenarios: most importantly, whether you will be refunded or if it will go towards the rent it at the start of the renewed tenancy in September 2018. You need to get clear about this before you do anything else.

      You’ve already paid £200 – did you get them to tell you in writing exactly how it will be treated in all possible circumstances: (1) if the tenancy goes ahead, (2) if you pull out (3) if they pull out. If not then you need them to clarify this immediately. If they have served you notice, then they probably need to pay you back that £200, because you paid that to secure the renewal (even though that is a very unusual thing to do) and now they’re pulling out.

      The second year is not already binding – you haven’t signed anything and they’re serving you notice, which suggests they don’t want you to stay in the property. To renew the tenancy, you will both have to sign another tenancy agreement contract.

      This is quite a complex case, but luckily you have months to sort it out, so make sure you seek advice from one of the bodies listed here.

  11. Hi.Before o moved in the property i pay £350. For holding Then when i move in i pay £2800. Thats £1200. deposit £1200. Month rent and the other £400. For fees but on my tenancy agreement doesn’t show the deposit . Just say £1200 montly, how do i know if i have my deposit secure? Thank you

    1. Hi Roberto. When you pay a tenancy deposit, the landlord has 30 days to serve you with the prescribed information about how they are protecting your deposit. If it has been more than 30 days then the landlord might be liable to pay you up to three times the the amount of the deposit (i.e. £1,200*3 = £3,600).

      I suggest getting in touch with them to find out which the scheme they used to protect your deposit. If the 30 days is up, then you can get your deposit back by following the instructions on this page.

  12. Hello,
    We found a property we like after searching for ages. Thr room was advertised for £200 a week inclusive of all bills, garden, living room, en-suite in Zoopla and Rightmove. However, when we went to view the property we were quoted a higher price of £220 a week. When we query it we were told the £200 a week room had gone which was a lie because we view all the rooms in the house none of them looked like the one advertise execpt the one that was shown to us.

    Further, there was no garden, living room and is not en-suite. When we ask Why, we were told the landlord changed his mind and turn the living room to a studio flat. The original advert is still in Zoopla and rightmove to date. Nevertheless, because we were so much in love with the house and location we went ahead and put a hold of a week rent of £220 on it. After waiting for almost two weeks we receive an email telling us to pay additional charges toward towards communal cleaning.

    Now this has gone beyond our budget plus we were not told of this additional charges before we put a hold on it. We are also weary of the landlord and agent because several changes have occurred or shall l call it false advertisement.

    Are we able to get our holding fee back? I am also wondering if it is legal for landlord or agent to advertise what they cannot provide.

    I look forward to your response.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ari, thanks for raising this important point!

      The following are against consumer protection law guidance as described by the Competition & Markets Authority:

    2. Advertising a property at one price and then offering at a higher price
    3. Advertising a room/property that is not available
    4. It sounds like this landlord has not acted properly and if possible, it would seem sensible not to proceed with the tenancy.

      If you ask for your holding deposit back while referencing the above two points, then they may be inclined to give you it instead of facing penalties for these actions.

      You can also make a complaint to the redress scheme of which the agent is a member. This should be visible on their website or other communications.

  13. Hi,

    I paid a holding fee on my rented flat and saw that it was still advertised but did not say anything as l did not want to up set the apple cart. See two months down the line it is still being advertised
    . Please may l have some advise

  14. I pay a holding deposit but i haven’t sind the aplication form with landlord send me i don’t want to give him all my personal details after 2 days i told him that i don’t want the room and now he don’t want to give mi deposit back

  15. Hi. I applied and was accepted to rent a property and paid bond and first month rent today and going in to sign tanancy tomorrow. But i have decided i no longer want to move, will i get the money back for bond and 1st month rent as havent signed a tenancy??

  16. Hi,
    Hope you can help me guide here.
    We had viewed a property on the afternoon of 29th June and offered a rent which was £50 below what was advertised.

    This offer was given verbally just outside the house after viewing it and the agent confirmed this with the landlord who was still inside the property and stated to us that the offer has been accepted and we can do the paperwork once he reaches his office. That same day he called me to take all my details and whilst I was still on the phone he said that my checks are all green and that I need to pay £XXXX (for the first month’s rent in advance (£XXXX), one month’s deposit (£XXXX) and £XXX for the reference checks) and he will send the contract by end of the
    day. I then asked him to email me the bank details which he did. And I promply paid all the money within half an hour and emailed him the screen shot and called him to also inform about it.
    I, later on, called him but was no response, Since that was Friday evening I let it go. Then on Monday I tried to call him but he seemed to be a bit hesistant in his speech and would not clearly tell me when I would get the contract. On Tuesday I got a call (I assumed this was from the same agency but later realised it was from a third party) stating that my reference checks from my accountant have not come back and I chased my accountant for this and it was promptly submitted the next day. Based on this I even gave a notice to my landlord about vacating the present house. This was now 4th of July.
    Meanwhile, I tried to contact the letting agent and told him about the reference checks and to send the contract for which he mentioned me to speak to the Admin lady. When I called and spoke to her she said that I will be getting the contract by 5th July. But then I asked if my wife’s name to also be included in the contract for which she asked me for my wife’s details and I emailed them to her.
    The next day Friday 6th July I called her and she said the references check will go through today and I should be able to get the contract by Saturday 7th July. I tried to call that day but did not get a response.
    Monday 9th of July I called in the morning but could not speak to the admin lady and the guy who was dealing with my case so left a message for them to call back. So I called again this afternoon and I get the shock of my life as the admin lady said that the owner is giving the house to someone else who viewed it. I said how can this happen when I had paid all the money more than a week back. She will then ask that agent guy to speak to me as he was dealing with this case. I am waiting for him to call me as write this.

    All this time for over 10 days no one ever even bothered to call me once and clear this issue.

    My question:
    Can I still pursue the agency to give me the house?
    Is there any legal action I can take if they refuse to give the house to me?
    What are my options?

    Please HELP!

  17. Hello, My Wife and I have payed Admin fees £150 each and holding Deposit of £700 about a week ago and my wife and I have had to back out of rental agreement as our new build property is almost complete no signed contracts at all only been 1 week since applied for rental. Called Estate Agents they said that I’m not eligible for a refund on holding deposit. Is there a way that I can pursue this as the estate agents have done my check within 1 week? I’m Find the Estate Agents are all for the Land Lord and non for the Tenants. Also was to an understanding that the admin fees cover the credit and reference checks? Which Estate Agents are saying the holding fee covers the credit checks ETC?

    1. Hi Michael, unfortunately it is quite unlikely that you will get your holding deposit back in this case. The point of a holding deposit is to protect the landlord from suffering a financial loss in the event of a tenant pulling out of the tenancy after indicating they would take the property. Since you are pulling out of the tenancy, the agent will feel quite right to take the holding deposit as forfeit.

  18. Hi,
    I hope you can help me with some doubts.
    We find a flat and went to visit it, as we are new in England and know that is really hard to find a flat we offer the LL 6 months on advancce. After that we texted the landlord(no agencies) and he asked us for the holding deposit of: 200p.
    We paid that and he did the reference process in one day. After that he said we are OK and sent us a tenancy agreement wich specified the payment of deposit and rent of that month. Then he sent us an email explaining that we need to pay the deposit and the six month rent in advance before he gives us the keys or the agreement with his sign. We have checked him in the register and his name matches the information but we don’t know anything more about him. He could be using other person name? We are kind of lost about the way renting process is made here in England. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Nicole, if the landlord is using OpenRent, then asking them to use our Rent Now process offers you a lot of protection. If the landlord is not using OpenRent, then nothing about what they have done so far sounds like cause for concern. You could always ask to see his ID or for proof that he owns the home you viewed. You could also ask to view the reference to confirm he actually ordered one. If you suspect a landlord is actually a fraud, then you should contact the police.

      For a beginners guide to renting in the UK, check Shelter:

  19. My son has gone through Homelet in Alfreton.
    He needed a working guarantor that earned £16k per year. He asked his boss.
    His boss gave them his business bank accounts that they asked for. They said it wasn’t ood enough we need to see personal accounts. So he gave them them also.
    Then they wanted his accountants details and his limited company details. All of which he gave them.
    They kept my son waiting over a week just to tell him no they can’t have the house??
    1) his boss doesn’t earn 16k a year. Except he does, he earns £500 a week!
    2) my son’s landlord at the minute (who’s a rogue one) told homelet that they were late paying their rent!! Which was 1 time only after housing benefit was late putting it in their account.
    I also thought it wasn’t my son having the checks??
    Anyway, now they’ve kept the £290 letting agency fee and half of the deposit???
    I want to know how they can do this?
    Please help, we’re desperate.
    My son borrowed all of that money off his grandma now he has no house to move into and no deposit for anywhete else and is over £400 out of pocket!

  20. Hi

    I gave a landlord the full deposit, no holding fee for a house before signing the contract.

    Previously to this, they said they would be changing the kitchen cupboard doors and changing the tap as well as some repainting around the property.

    Upon a second viewing of the property, the landlord stated they would be refitting an entirely new kitchen if we were happy for the work to be carried out whilst we were in the property. We agreed and asked for this to be incorporated into the contract.

    After receiving the deposit, and two days before we were due to move in, they have informed us that they will only be repainting and repairing damaged cupboards in the kitchen instead.

    We insisted that we no longer wanted to continue with the tenancy and would like our deposit back because they have broken their word and now the landlord have retained one weeks rent from the deposit.

    Can this be done when the only reason we are not going forward is because they have not held up their end of the agreement by carrying out the agreed work?

  21. Hi just want to ask how long does it take for the landlord to sign a contract, we passed referencing and signed the contract. Just awaiting for the landlord to sign it, moved are is due in the next 4 days 🙁 can we chased them for that?

  22. My daughter recently (2017-2019) rented student accommodation near her university by confirming the AST in March 2017 (AST started 1st Sept 2017).

    She (or should I say I) paid a £100 tenancy fee and £300 deposit in April and then paid the first quarterly rent in July. I acted as guarantor which was confirmed as along with everything else requested.

    The Landlord inserted a clause within his terms and conditions stating “Within 30 days of the commencement of your Tenancy Agreement your deposit will be registered with MyDeposits” and then further clarified this when recently challenged by stating: – “As we held the deposit payment as a holding deposit and not a damage deposit from 27th April 2017 – 29th September 2017, we have acted in accordance with and within the legalities of our Landlord’s Obligation”.

    My main issues are what exactly were they holding it for as everything was completed as requested so it should have immediately been treated as a security deposit. The LL has also stated the funds were collected 29 Sept 2017 which is not correct, is this not also a breach?

    Whilst this appears to me as a clear breach, I am in need of a further “Sanity Check’ please?

  23. Hi in in September 2013 I signed has guarantor for my mother for a two bedrooms house paying 1mth rent £475 and £500 deposit. I am sure the landlord placed the Deposit in a secured holding my issue now is that my mother passed away on 16th Ooctober 2019 I asked for my deposit back and today I received an email telling me that Mr Thomas the landlord was handing £300 of my deposit to a family member because she hired a cleaner to go in and clean and paint the property As the landlord got the right to do this.

  24. Hi,
    We recently put a holding deposit on a property and signed an agreement for rent of 540 a month and move in date 6th of september. The landlord put up the rent to 550 to which we verbally agreed because we had no choice since our current contact ends on the 7th of November and we would be out on the streets. He has now turned around and said that the property will not be ready for the agreed move in data and we no longer wish to proceed with renting from this person due to the problems we’ve faced before we’ve even moved in. Is out holding fee refunduble in this case seeing as the landlord has tried to change the holding agreement 2 times and we do not agree to he changes.

    1. Hi Svetla, in general yes — a landlord reneging on the agreed terms (e.g. rent) is grounds enough for you to be able to receive your holding deposit back in full. If this is an OpenRent tenancy, then you can get help from our team on


  25. Hi
    Do you know if the return of a tenancy deposit effectively ends the contract between the tenant and landlord? I was recently contacted by an old landlord who has said I failed to pay for a months rent. Upon looking at old bank records I found that the standing order left my account, but was bounced straight back for whatever reason. This was not picked up by me or my landlord. Now they are requesting payment some 13 months after I moved out. Was it their responsibility to ensure I had fulfilled all my contractual obligations while they still had my deposit?

    1. Hi Nigel, I recently went through I very similar situation as a tenant.

      Unfortunately for us, if the rent was due and not paid, then the rent does need to be paid, regardless of whether the tenancy is over or not. For example, a landlord may evict a tenant for not paying rent, thus ending the tenancy, and then still pursue the tenant for their arrears, even though the tenancy has been terminated. A terminated tenancy does not ‘wipe the arrears clean’. Far from it. I believe money orders for rent arrears can be brought until 5 years after the payment was due.

      In any case, a tenancy is not brought to an end by the return of the deposit, but by one of the several ways to terminate a tenancy:
      – mutual surrender
      – implied surrender
      – break clause activation
      – serving notice

      The deposit return itself does not end the tenancy. Indeed, it usually follows the termination rather than precipitating it.

      Best wishes,

  26. Hi I paid a rental deposit of a full months rent, without having completed and returned the paperwork. Unfortunately I decided to pull out just 2 days later and the landlord has held back £200 of the £650 – is this allowed? It was never a holding deposit and it was not explained to me the deposit was non-refundable. I appreciate it is a deposit but 3 days and no paperwork signed???

    1. Hi, from what you’ve said, this sounds illegal under the tenant fees act. I’d get in touch with your local council’s Trading Standards team, or Citizens Advice. They will be able to help you get the money back, and may also fine the landlord.

    1. Hi Shawn, my understanding is that if anything is wrong with what happened, it is that you had a conditional agreement to let a property which was not upheld by the other party. Maybe you could sue them for breaking an agreement, but my understanding is that what you have described is not a criminal offence.

  27. I expressed intent to rent a property in writing to an agent after viewing the property, and requested first option of refusal, however the agent said they could only do such upon payment of the holding deposit (as a mutual show of “good faith”). We duly paid the holding deposit and presented and signed the relevant documentation.
    The following week the agent called to say that the owner had agreed to let the property to someone else via another agency. What is the point of a holding deposit if the owner can skirt the matter by using multiple agents and thus continue entertain other prospects as a result even though they were notified that we had signed and paid?
    Before I go to collect the money, please kindly advise of my rights in this regard andnif the owner and/or agent acted within their rights.
    Thank you.

  28. Hi,
    Me and my partner viewed a place today (we were the first the ones to view it) and we both liked the place. Just minutes after we called thea gents office and paid a holding deposit. After a few hours the agent called us and told us that they had another offer and hence asked if we’re willing to offer £50 pcm extra as to to have the best offer. I’m now confused whether this is a common thing and if they could let others put in offers after we payed a holding deposit? I understand that they couldn’t just contact all the scheduled viewings following ours but it made me suspicious.


    1. Hi Emil, this is shoddy and unprofessional behaviour from the agent. You could make a complaint to the agent and then follow this up with the Property Ombudsman Sceheme.

      You may be intersted to hear that this happened to one of our guest writers, Sam Beswick. The terms of the let agreed before placing the deposit were subsequently changed by the agent (i.e. they demanded more money after the HD was paid). Sam completed the tenancy at the higher rent, but then sued the landlord for the increased rental price, winning a settlement.


  29. Hello,

    Thank you for this very informative article.

    I have a question though: You state that a tenant may agree to pay more than one month rent in advance at the beginning of the tennancy, say 3 months on a 12 months’ lease. However, does it mean that the landlord can ask for another 3 months’ “advance payment” at the end of the first 3 month’s period? Or should the remaining rent be split equally over the remaining months?
    This would defeat the whole purpose of the “no deposit” rule and open the door to abuse by landlords. For instance, landlord may simply insist that a tenant pays 12 months’ rent in advance! They are simply using the term “advance payment” instead of “deposit” and getting away with it!
    Also, who can a tenant complain to when subject to such abusive practices? Thanks

    1. Hi Fazal, No they are not using “advanced payment” to mean “deposit”. Deposits are refundable and must be protected in a government approved scheme, whereas rent is not refundable.

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