How Much Deposit Should A Landlord Ask For?

How Much Deposit Should A Landlord Ask For?
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It’s a question often asked by both tenants and property investors alike: “how much deposit should a landlord ask for?”.

While landlords have some freedom in deciding how much they charge a tenant for a security deposit, in most countries of the UK there is an upper limit.

So as a landlord you have to be aware of these limits. But there are many factors that will have an impact on how much deposit a landlord should ask, such as location, type of property and risk factors.

So let’s get to it and answer the question of how much deposit should a landlord ask for.

Security Deposit Limits

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have introduced limits to the amount a landlord can ask from a tenant for a security deposit in the private rental sector.

The legislation that was introduced aimed at protecting tenants from excessive upfront costs when renting a property.

England – Up To 6 Weeks’ Rent

Great British Pound Notes

In 2019, the government brought in a cap on the security deposit private landlords in England can ask for. For properties with an annual rental value of below £50,000, a landlord can as a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent.

If the annual rent is £50,000 or over, the security deposit amount is capped at 6 weeks’ rent. For rental properties that have an annual rental value of £100,000 and over, there is no cap for the security deposit.

Wales – No Upper Limit

Although Wales has brought in legislation to protect tenants in the private rental sector in 2019, a limit on security deposits isn’t part of it.

This means that landlords in Wales are free to set any amount they wish as a security deposit for their private rental.

Scotland – Up To 2 Months’ Rent

In Scotland there has been a cap on the amount for a security deposit a landlord can ask since the 1980s. This limit is up to 2 months rent.

Northern Ireland – Up To 1 Month’s Rent

In April 2023, Northern Ireland has introduced a cap on security deposits that landlords can ask. This should not be more than 1 month’s rent.

It’s important that you are aware of these limits and ensure that you meet them. If you are in Wales, then there aren’t any limits at the moment; however, this might change in the future.

So, How Much Deposit Should A Landlord Ask For?

With everything considered, it’s time to address the main question at hand. How much deposit should a landlord ask for?

There is no hard and fast rule as long as you adhere to the set upper limits, but there are three popular schools of thought:

No Deposit

no deposit required

This sounds counter-intuitive given its aim is to protect the landlord, and it certainly comes with some big risks attached.

However, the thinking goes that if you do away with a deposit, the property instantly becomes more affordable, and therefore attractive, to potential tenants.

And a more attractive property will find new tenants more quickly, minimising the amount of time a property is stood empty.

Not asking for any money also makes a landlord’s life easier in some ways since the money won’t have to be placed in a deposit protection scheme.

However, the downside is that if a tenant damages your property or doesn’t pay rent, you risk being left out of pocket.

1 Month’s Rent

This is by far the most common amount landlords tend to ask for. If the property is one of your first investments, 1 month’s rent upfront is a great place to start.

As it is so common, tenants are more used to it and so few are likely to be too much put off by a 1-month rent deposit.

It’s also still enough to protect the landlord relatively well should anything go wrong when the tenant leaves.


Some landlords opt to ask for the maximum amount they are allowed to.

While this helps to better protect and cover the landlord, many tenants see such high amounts as ‘greedy’ and will instantly be put off by such demands. Unless there is a valid reason to go up to the limit, asking a higher deposit will reduce the attractiveness of your property.

This will reduce the pool of tenants, and you risk your property remaining empty for periods of time. And this could cost you quite a bit of money.

Deciding on how much to ask for a deposit is a balancing act. It should be enough to protect you in case things go wrong, but not too much to put tenants off. And never over any legal limits.

There are some factors, though, that can help you to decide on a figure.

Factors That Affect The Amount Of Deposit Required

The amount that a landlord should ask for will depend on a number of factors:

The Area

Believe it or not, the amount of money which is requested often depends on where the property is located.

After all, if all the other nearby rental properties are only asking for 1 month’s rent, a property that requires more would instantly become less attractive to renters.

So the area your property is in can limit the amount that is reasonable to ask. But on the flip side, if other landlords ask more, then your property will look more attractive if your deposit is lower.

The Type Of Property

What Affects A Landlords Deposit

Because the deposit is meant to protect the landlord, for example, if the tenant damages the property, a bigger property might come with a bigger deposit.

This is because the costs to repair any damage could be larger in a house than in a flat. However, much will come down to how much deposit other properties of a similar type are demanding in the area.

Risk Factors

The security deposit is a way to manage risks associated with renting out a property. This means risk factors are an important consideration for the question of how much deposit should a landlord ask for. When the risk is higher, the deposit might also be higher.

If a tenant is particularly high-risk, such as one who does not have a steady income, a landlord may decide to ask for a higher deposit in order to better cover their back.

However, this does not mean that you can exceed the upper limit dictated by law.

Supply & Demand

When there is more demand for rental properties than there is supply, you’ll usually find landlords asking for higher amounts. Of course, if your property bucks the trend, and you ask less than everyone else, your property will be even more attractive.

When supply is outstripping demand, landlords usually ask for lower amounts to make their property appear more attractive.

Why Do Landlords Ask For A Deposit?

a security deposit reduces the risk for the landlord

To decide how much deposit you as a landlord should ask for, you have to know why you are asking for one in the first place.

Especially, because whether a landlord asks for a deposit or not is entirely down to the landlord. There is no legal requirement to ask for one in the UK.

So, why do landlords ask for a deposit? Put simply, it all comes down to risk.

Having one helps protect a landlord against the risk of non-payment of rent or against repairing any damage to the property after a tenant has moved out.

In fact, many landlords ask for one in order to help encourage the tenant to better look after the property.

After all, if you were a tenant, and you knew your own money was at risk if you didn’t leave the property in good condition, you’d be more careful to not cause any damage, right?

What Is A Rental Deposit Used For?

In short, it’s simply security for the landlord against the tenants’ obligations under the tenancy agreement.

It means that if any part of the tenancy agreement is broken, such as leaving the property in a poor state of repair, the landlord can withhold some, or part, of the deposit to cover the costs they incur rectifying the problems.

So, when you ask how much deposit should a landlord ask for, you have to consider the risk involved. While it’s difficult to guess what damage a tenant might cause, or how much rent they won’t pay, this is what’s important.

Therefore, a rental deposit is used to protect the landlord. It is not used to cover any fees and the tenant is entitled to repayment of the money at the end of the rental agreement, providing there are no rightful reasons to withhold it.

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How To Go About Protecting A Tenant’s Deposit

If you’re a landlord, and you decide that you will take a deposit from your tenant, you’ll need to put it into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).

This is a legal requirement for all homes rented on a shorthold tenancy that started after 6th April 2007 in England and Wales. It’s also a legal requirement in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Paying the money into such a scheme helps protect the tenant as the money cannot be spent. It also requires that money is repaid to the tenant within 10 days of an agreement being reached on how much shall be returned.

As it’s a legal requirement, it’s not worth the risk not using a TDP scheme.

Speaking of risk, have you read our article that asks the question “is landlord insurance worthwhile?“.


So here you go, the answer to the question of how much deposit should a landlord ask for. While there are some factors that are at play, such as area and supply and demand, in the end it’s a question of balance.

As a landlord, you have to balance the risk of being out of pocket if something goes wrong, while asking for a fair amount.

The caps on the amount you can ask in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland do restrict what you can ask, but it does also make it easier to decide.

You should also consider that many tenants will see high deposits as greed on the part of the landlords, so making it fair while giving you protection is the best way forward.


  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

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