'Don't hand over money without knowing how you will get it back'
Much of the unease, for tenants, about paying deposits and worrying about getting your money back has now gone as a consequence of rules applied after April 6, 2007, about how deposits are handled.
In fact, many landlords have stopped taking deposits and rely instead on undertakings by guarantors.
The point of a deposit is to ensure the satisfactory performance, by the tenant, of all the various obligations under the tenancy agreement particularly relating to payment of rent and condition of the property.
If, as a tenant, you are asked to pay a deposit, make sure it is protected by one of the three Tenancy Protection Schemes.
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Don't hand over money without knowing how you are going to get it back.
If you are renting through a reputable agent then you should be given all the information you need at the start of the tenancy and the best agents will also have Client Money Protection insurance in place to further safeguard your money. Ask for details from the agent.
If you are not sure then check some of the internet sites that helpfully explain all you need to know about protecting deposit money and what to do if you do not get the proper details from your landlord.
If, as a tenant, you are not asked for a deposit then it is quite likely that someone will have to guarantee your rent payments and agree to reimburse the landlord if you damage the property.
Your landlord's agent will want to check out the guarantor to make sure that they have enough money to pay if you don't.
Ideally a guarantor will also own property in the UK. The guarantor's responsibilities are, therefore, quite onerous but if the tenant complies with the terms of the agreement there is nothing to worry about because no money has changed hands in the first place.