Taking your landlord to court if they haven’t followed the deposit rules
You might be able to get compensation if your landlord didn't follow the rules when you paid your deposit.
You could get back 1 to 3 times the amount you paid if your landlord didn't:
- protect your deposit at the right time
- protect your deposit at all
- give you the 'prescribed information' - this is information landlords must give tenants, including details about the property and your deposit
- give you the prescribed information at the right time
You can find out when your deposit needed to be protected and when you should have got the prescribed information. It'll depend on when you paid your deposit to your landlord.
You'll need to take your landlord to court to get compensation. You should win your case if your landlord didn't follow the rules when you paid your deposit.
If your tenancy hasn't ended
It might be best to wait until the end of your tenancy to take your landlord to court.
You can't be evicted with a section 21 notice if your:
- deposit isn't protected properly
- landlord hasn't given you the prescribed information in the correct way
This means you're better off waiting until you're ready to end your tenancy before you take your landlord to court.
If you take your landlord to court before your tenancy ends, the court might order them to protect your deposit and give you the prescribed information. You might still get compensation.
Once your deposit is protected and the prescribed information given, your landlord could start the eviction process by giving you a section 21 notice. Find out more about getting a section 21 notice.
Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if your tenancy hasn't ended and you're not sure whether to take your landlord to court.
Before you go to court
You might be able to negotiate with your landlord instead of going to court. The court will expect you to have done this.
Write a letter to your landlord telling them:
- they haven't complied with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme rules
- you could get 1 to 3 times your deposit in compensation if you go to court
- what they have to do so you don’t take them to court - for example, they have to return your deposit
Tell your landlord you want a reply within 21 days. If they don't reply or won't negotiate with you, you can take them to court to get compensation.
It's best if you get evidence from the 3 tenancy deposit schemes to prove your deposit wasn't protected, or was protected late. The 3 tenancy deposit schemes are Deposit Protection Services, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Email them and ask them to confirm your deposit isn't protected, or was protected late. You can find their contact details on their websites.
Taking your landlord to court
You'll need to follow 3 steps to take your landlord to court:
- fill in the court form
- send your form and pay the court fee - you might be able to get the fee back if you win your case
- go to a hearing
Step 1 - fill in the form
You'll need to print and fill in form N208 on GOV.UK to take your landlord to court.
Write on your form that you're making a claim 'under S213-214 of the Housing Act 2004 (non-compliance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme)'.
You should also explain your situation and tell the court why you're making the claim.
You can write on the form that you want interest to be added to your claim - if you win, the court will decide how much interest you get.
You can also claim any costs you've had to pay, or will have to pay - for example travel costs to get to court.
You should write a statement about your situation and send it with your claim form - this is called a witness statement. You can explain your situation in more detail in a witness statement.
Your witness statement can be used in court, so it's your opportunity to write down everything you want the court to know about your situation.
Make sure you explain things like:
- when you paid your deposit
- if you reminded your landlord to protect your deposit or give you the prescribed information
- if your landlord refused to protect your deposit or give you the prescribed information
You can find out more about what you need to write on a witness statement on GOV.UK.
You should also get any evidence you can and send it to the court, for example:
- a copy of your tenancy agreement
- a receipt for your deposit
- any letters you've written to your landlord asking them to protect your deposit or give you the prescribed information
Keep a copy of your form and the witness statement - you'll need to talk about what you've written in court.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help to fill out the form or write your witness statement.
Step 2 - send the form to your local county court
You'll need to pay a fee when you send your claim form. The amount you pay will depend on the amount of deposit you're trying to get back. You should get your fee back if you win your case.
Check how much your court fee will be on GOV.UK.
The court will then write to you telling you to send any other evidence you have. They'll tell you when and where you need to send it.
The court will also write to your landlord and ask them for their evidence. You'll get a copy of this before you go to court.
You'll be able to send an updated witness statement to the court if you want to reply to your landlord's evidence.
Step 3 - going to the hearing
The court will write to you and tell you when your hearing will be.
You'll have to go to the hearing. You'll need to talk about your case and answer questions so it's a good idea to be prepared.
Court hearings by phone or video call
The court will tell you what kind of hearing you’ll have. Check how to prepare for a hearing by phone or video call.
Read your claim form and witness statement again to help you remember all the points you want to talk about.
Take a friend or relative with you for support, or to make notes if you think that would help.
You should still go to court if your landlord protects your deposit properly or pays it back to you before the date of the hearing. You should still get compensation, so it's worth going.
Getting the court's decision
If the court agrees that your landlord hasn't followed the correct rules, it will tell your landlord to either:
- pay your deposit back to you within 14 days
- pay your deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days
The court will also tell your landlord to pay compensation of 1 to 3 times the amount of your deposit.
You're likely to get more compensation if your deposit wasn't protected than if it was just protected a few days late.
If your landlord doesn't pay
If your landlord doesn't pay you what you're owed you might have to take further action. You can find out what action you can take at GOV.UK.
You can also get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.