With the academic year finally wrapping up (so long, Zoom lectures), you may be considering a change of scene.  

Whether you’re packing up to return home (hi mam), or moving in with friends, your current deposit will go a long way towards covering the next one… 

Which is why it’s essential you get it back. 

You should expect to get your deposit back within two weeks of leaving your rented accommodation. While this timeframe is not set out in law, it is the general recommended timeframe from Threshold, the housing rights charity.  

You are unlikely to get your deposit back on the day you leave, as the landlord needs to inspect the property and calculate any outstanding bills. 

Provided you haven’t trashed the place, and assuming you’ve reached the end of your agreed rental period or notice, you should get your deposit back promptly, no questions asked.  

Some landlords, however, will try to hold onto some or all of it – if so you need to know your rights.  

If your landlord refuses to give you your money back, they must give you a valid reason, for example: 

  • Rent arrears (unpaid or outstanding rent) 
  • Unpaid utility bills 
  • Damage to the property (above normal wear and tear) 
  • Inadequate notice given before ending your tenancy 

If you disagree with their reason, or if you suspect they are being unfair, you can take the following steps to get your deposit back. 

Getting your deposit back 

1. Clean, clean, and clean some more 

Before you move out, clean the property thoroughly and take photos showing each room in its original condition. Make sure the photos are timestamped to prove when they were taken.  

If possible, ask your landlord or agent to do their final inspection with you, in-person (socially distanced and masked, of course). You should put all communication with your landlord in writing.  

2. Get proof 

If your landlord does the inspection without you after you have already moved out, and they later tell you the property has been damaged, you should ask them for photographic evidence. 

Then, if they say the repairs have been done, ask to see receipts for the repair work in question. 

Keep a record of all your correspondence, including emails and text messages. You’ll need to show these as evidence if the issue escalates to a formal complaint. 

3. Check your bills 

If your landlord claims you have outstanding bills or rent, gather your bank statements and receipts to show that you have paid.  

You can also request copies of the bills. Double check each bill against what you have paid for, and make sure you are not being charged for someone else’s share. 

4. Escalate your complaint to the RTB 

If, after all of this, you still cannot get your deposit back, you can make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). The RTB deals with most disputes between landlords and tenants, rather than the courts. You can apply for dispute resolution by mediation on the RTB’s website for free.  

Read more about resolving a dispute with your landlord on the Citizens Information website. You can also read about your tenant rights and obligations

Need help figuring out your tenant rights? Call the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm). Alternatively, request a callback by filling in this callback form. You can also contact your local Citizens Information Centre by phone or email.  

Follow @citizensinfo on Twitter  and @citizensinformation on Facebook  for all the latest updates.  

Citizens Information Services are funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board.