This article provides information about deposits for private accommodation.

Most landlords/agencies will require some form of deposit from you when you rent a property - it is usually slightly more than one month's rental payment.

The Portsmouth StudentPad-registered landlords state on their advertisements how much the deposit is per person for the house (if they are charging one) and also which deposit protection scheme they are using.

Once you have found a house you like, you will be expected to sign a contract and pay a deposit to the landlord or agency.

There are two different types of deposit - a holding deposit and a damage deposit. When you pay any form of deposit ensure that you get a receipt and have it in writing what you have exactly paid for to avoid any confusion.


Holding deposit

This is a sum of money paid to the landlord or agency to guarantee that the prospective tenant wishes to take up the tenancy and remove the property from any marketing websites.

It is no refundable, so you should not pay a holding deposit unless you are certain that you will sign the contract and/or take up the tenancy.

If you agree to pay a holding deposit and then decide not to sign the contract, the landlord is entitled to keep the deposit.

Holding deposits are normally put towards the overall amount of damage deposit you will pay if you decide to take on the property. For example, if you pay a £100 holding deposit and the overall damage deposit is £300, you will be expected to pay £200 when you sign up to the property.


Damage deposit

This form of deposit is usually paid to the landlord at the same time as you sign the contract. It is used to safeguard against any damage caused to the property beyond normal wear and tear and, if specified, against any unpaid rent and bills.

The amount of deposit you pay can vary greatly - anything from £100 to £400. Ideally, the landlord should not charge you more than two months' rent for a deposit. Anything higher, we would advise you question this.

The Landlord, under the Tenant Fees Act, cannot charge you more than five weeks rent for a deposit.


Tenancy deposit protection scheme

Since April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents must be protected by a government authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme.

The aim of the schemes are to ensure that when you are paying a deposit, if you are entitled to get all or part of it back at the end of the tenancy, you are able to do so.

It also ensures any disputes between tenants and landlords or agents will be easier to resolve.

At the beginning of a new tenancy agreement, pay your deposit to your landlord or agency as usual. Within 30 days of you paying your damage deposit, the landlord/agency is required to give you details (the correct terminology is "prescribed information") about how your deposit is protected including:

  • reference number
  • the contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme
  • the contact details of the landlord
  • how to apply for the release of the deposit
  • information explaining the purpose of the deposit
  • what to do if there is a dispute about the deposit

If you don't get this information, ask your landlord how your deposit is protected.

As per the legislation, the deposit must be protected in a scheme AND the landlord/agency must provide you with the prescribed information as set out above.

If you find that your landlord isn't protecting your deposit, please contact Student Housing for further advice.

You can also view information about the scheme on the Government website.

Links to each deposit protection scheme so you can find out more information about your specific scheme provider are detailed below:


Deposit at the end of the tenancy

At the end of the tenancy, check whether you are leaving the property and its contents in the condition in which they were let to you, allowing for fair wear and tear and checking that you have paid your rent and all utility bills.

You then need to agree with your landlord or agency how much deposit should be returned to you. You should then receive the agreed deposit amount within 14 days.

If you cannot agree on the amount that should be returned to you, and to avoid disputes going to court, each tenancy deposit scheme will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR), whose aim is to make disputes faster and cheaper to resolve.

The scheme will hold the disputed amount until the ADR or courts decide what is fair. Once agreed, the amount will be returned within ten days.

For more information about your specific scheme providers' deposit return "how to" guides, check out the applicable scheme website:



Please note that if you are a lodger in someone's home, the landlord cannot protect your deposit.

Deposit protection only applies to tenants who have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement and as a lodger, you will not be given one of these types of tenancy as you do not have exclusive access to the property. However, you should still expect to pay some form of damage deposit if you are to be a lodger in someone's home.



Many landlords will reserve a room or a property for you at a reduced rent over the summer months. Some will allow you to live in the accommodation during this time, others will not.

The retainer is a sum payable for reserving the accommodation and is non-refundable, regardless of whether you live in the accommodation or not.

Retainers are more commonly asked for by lodgings landlords to reserve an individual room in their home.

For more information please contact or visit the Student Housing team.