You may be asked to pay a holding deposit by letting agents or private landlords. This is so that they stop marketing the property and ‘hold’ it for you. Be sure to ask if the holding deposit is offset against the balance of your damage deposit or deducted from the rent. It may also be non-returnable, so bear this in mind if you decide not to go ahead with the tenancy.
Damage or security deposits
You will normally also have to pay a damage or security deposit. This is usually the equivalent of a month’s rent and is held in the event of any damages the landlord wishes to claim against the tenant(s) at the end of the tenancy.
You will not need to pay a damage deposit for university-managed accommodation (Unihomes).
Tenancy deposit schemes
Any deposits taken for an assured shorthold tenancy must be registered with a recognised deposit holder under the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. By law, information about which scheme your deposit has been placed in, how to apply for the release of the deposit and what to do in the event of a dispute over the deposit must be supplied to the tenant(s) within 14 days of payment.
There are three government-recognised schemes. Further information is available at gov.uk: Tenancies, deposits and rents
Make sure that you always get a clearly written, itemised receipt that is signed and dated for any payment you make. Especially if you pay in cash, always remember to get a receipt.