Withheld deposits could be costing renters £1bn

Research reveals the reasons tenants lose their security deposits, with broken furniture, marks on the walls and carpet stains topping the list.


Renters could collectively be losing as much as £1bn when moving due to withheld deposits.

New research reveals an alarming number of renters do not get their security deposit back from landlords following their departure of a property, with broken furniture emerging as the most common reason.

And 81% of renters polled believed their landlord ‘searched’ for a specific reason not to give them their money back.

The survey was carried out by interiors specialist www.hillarys.co.uk as part of ongoing research into habits and attitudes towards renting.

A total of 2,588 tenants were polled by researchers, all of whom revealed that they had left a rented home in the last year.

Initially, respondents were asked, “When you last moved out did you have your security deposit withheld from you (i.e. not eventually returned)?” to which 29% of participants revealed that they had.

Following on from this, all participants were asked how much their security deposit had been, with the average emerging as £825.

Taking into account the number of renters currently living in the UK (4.3 million), that 29% of renters, on average, have their security deposits withheld once they move, and the average security deposit price (£825), researchers calculated that as much as £1 billion (£1,028,775,000) could be collectively lost in withheld security deposits when the current renters next move home.

Participants who had experienced not receiving their security deposit back were asked what reason their landlord gave as an explanation for this.

The following five answers emerging as the most common:

  1. Broken furniture – 29%
  2. Marks on the walls – 24%
  3. Carpet stains – 21%
  4. Redecorations – 12%
  5. Mould – 9%

Following this, respondents were asked if they believed that the reason their landlord provided was a good enough cause for them to keep the security deposit, to which 68% said they did not – and 81% of participants said they believe landlords purposely searched for damage or inconsistencies within the property in order to keep their tenants financial deposits.

Finally, these participants were asked if they had ever confronted or had a dispute with a landlord regarding their security deposit, with 23% stating they had.

Tara Hall, spokesperson for www.hillarys.co.uk, said: “Security deposits are an unavoidable part of renting a property, and can be an essential way for landlords to deal with damage caused by tenants. But they can result in disputes and are a major cause of distrust among tenants”