How much deposit can a landlord ask for?

Lodger agreement, Deposit

A guide to deposits: How much deposit can a landlord ask for?

Renting out a room as a landlord or finding suitable accommodation as a lodger can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, especially in the current rental market. However, it is important for both parties to understand the legal obligations and rights associated with deposits. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how much deposit a landlord can ask for when renting out a room to a lodger, while considering the perspectives of both landlords and lodgers.

The Distinction Between Tenants and Lodgers

To better understand the regulations surrounding deposits, it is essential to differentiate between tenants and lodgers. Tenants have legal protections under the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement, while lodgers enjoy different rights as licensees. Lodgers typically reside in the same property as their landlord and share common living spaces, fostering a unique dynamic between the two parties.

Deposit Regulations for Lodgers

The regulations governing deposits for lodgers differ from those for tenants, offering landlords greater flexibility when it comes to requesting deposits. This flexibility stems from the nature of the occupancy, where the landlord shares living spaces with the lodger, allowing for increased control and security.

Determining a Reasonable Deposit Amount

As a landlord, it is important to request a reasonable deposit from your lodger, taking into account the value of the room and any furnishings provided. While there are no legally mandated limits on the maximum deposit amount, it is crucial to avoid charging an excessive or unjustifiable deposit. Such practices may be deemed unfair and could potentially lead to disputes between the parties involved.

Establishing Clarity: Written Agreements

To promote transparency and prevent misunderstandings, both landlords and lodgers are encouraged to have a written agreement in place. This agreement should clearly state the deposit amount, its purpose, and the conditions for its return. By doing so, both parties can establish a foundation of trust and ensure their rights and responsibilities are mutually understood.

Protecting the Deposit

Although not legally required, landlords may choose to protect their lodger’s deposit by placing it in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. While these schemes are primarily designed for ASTs, some may accept lodger deposits as well. Protecting the deposit offers an additional layer of security for both landlords and lodgers, ensuring fair and unbiased resolutions in case of disputes.

Returning the Deposit

At the end of the lodger’s stay, landlords must return the deposit, minus any agreed deductions, in a timely manner. Typically, this should be done within a reasonable period, which is commonly within 10 to 28 days, depending on the circumstances. Deductions can be made for unpaid rent, damages beyond reasonable wear and tear, or other expenses agreed upon by both parties. Effective communication and proper documentation are vital during this process to prevent any disputes.


Renting out a room or finding accommodation as a lodger in the UK requires a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations regarding deposits. While there are no specific limits on the deposit amount, it is important for landlords to request a reasonable sum. Open communication, written agreements, and deposit protection schemes help establish trust and protect the rights of both landlords and lodgers. By adhering to these guidelines, both parties can foster a positive and harmonious relationship while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.


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