Shelter has great, easy to read information about deposits on their website, but we have summarised the main information below.
Most private landlords must register your deposit with a deposit protection scheme and send you information about the scheme within 30 days. After protecting the deposit, the landlord must also send you details of the deposit protection scheme they have used. See the section titled 'What should my landlord do with the deposit?' for more information.
If your landlord isn't returning your deposit or wants to make unfair deductions, you can use the deposit protection scheme's dispute resolution service. Don’t wait too long - you can only use the scheme for 3 months after your tenancy ends.
What can I do if my deposit wasn't protected?
If your landlord was legally required to protect your deposit and failed to do so, you could take them to court to claim 1-3 times the worth of your deposit. This could be useful to use against your landlord, as they may be willing to pay you back the deposit in exchange for you not taking court action.
Shelter has some template letters you can use when writing to your landlord.
If your landlord is accredited with the local councils' Landlord Accreditation Scheme, you can also report them to the scheme for investigation. They may suspend the landlord's membership and this would restrict their ability to advertise to students.
What can I do if I was a lodger and the landlord didn't need to protect my deposit?
You can write formal letters to the landlord requesting the return of your deposit and, ultimately, you may want to consider legal action to get it back.
Shelter has some template letters you can use.