In this week’s #AskTDS, we answer a landlord’s question; “How do I return a deposit to students leaving a property at the end of a tenancy?”

Like all tenants leaving a property at the end of a tenancy term , students are keen to get their tenancy deposit back as quickly as possible and with minimal difficulty. For this group of tenants  there could be the added incentive that they may be moving away after university, possibly travelling, or funding the tenancy deposit on their next home.

It’s also beneficial for landlords to manage the return of the deposit in a timely manner as it can generate positive feedback from former tenants which, in turn , can avoid costly disputes, and minimise additional paperwork.

How a tenancy deposit is returned, for students as for all tenants, is dependent on which tenancy deposit scheme has been used. If the deposit is protected by the TDS Insured scheme, it should be returned within 10 days of the  tenants making a request for their deposit to be returned. This should include any agreed deductions and the return of the undisputed portion being taken into account and actioned promptly. If the Insured scheme is in use, the landlord holds the deposit and is responsible for managing the deposit repayment.

If a tenancy deposit is registered in the TDS Custodial scheme, the tenancy deposit is lodged and held by TDS, and a tenant can request for their deposit to be returned any time after their tenancy lawfully ends. Parties can simply  login to the TDS Custodial website and click ‘request repayment of deposit’ in the deposit summary section. This process will then lead to any agreed sum being returned if the correct bank details have been updated by the user.

In the case of a number of sharers moving into a property, it’s best if the amount each has paid towards the deposit is recorded in a tenancy agreement – meaning that when it comes to returning the deposit, everyone is aware what proportion they may be due. If using the TDS Insured scheme, the landlord will be holding the tenancy deposit and, if there is a suitable agreement in place, this can be paid in the correct amounts to each tenant moving out. If no agreement is in place and neither party can reach an agreement then the TDS may be  asked to deal with the matter in a report of adjudication. Payment can then end up being made to a group of tenants in equal amounts unless otherwise detailed.

Whether the whole amount is returned will depend on whether any deductions have been made as agreed. In order that a dispute doesn’t arise, a clearly written tenancy agreement should be in place at the beginning of a tenancy, outlining the reasons why a deposit has been taken. This would set out potential reasons for deductions to be made. This kind of preparation is key in avoiding unnecessary disputes later on down the line. If an agreement cannot be found, then TDS’ free Dispute Service can be utilised, which will look at all of the information available and come to a decision about what deductions, in any, can be fairly made at the end of a tenancy.

Just remember – depending on the type of scheme signed up to, this can impact the timescales involved and, as is always the case, a clearly set out tenancy agreement being written and signed before the start of a tenancy will always make this easier – regardless of who the tenant is. 

About TDS

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.

TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.

TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.

TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.

TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland’s leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.

ARLA|Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact Propertymark | ARLA at: By being a member of Propertymark | ARLA you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.

RLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can contact the RLA at: and quote reference: dg715 to receive 25% off your first year’s membership.

Join TDS Now

Other news stories