Landlords often charge tenants a deposit to cover themselves against possible damage to the property or non-payment of rent. But there are often disputes at the end of the tenancy about what should happen to the money. And too many landlords refuse to give it back for no good reason. There are no statutory controls on how landlords or agents hold and account for deposit monies, how quickly they should be returned or who should benefit from the interest.
A report by the UK National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Unsafe Deposit, published in June 1998, found that out of 446 CAB clients who had been charged a rent deposit in the last five years, almost half reported that their deposit had been unreasonably withheld by their landlord. A further survey carried out by the Office of National Statistics found that out of 332 people who had moved out of privately rented accommodation in the last five years, 22% were dissatisfied because the landlord did not return part or all of the deposit.