Half of students lose rental deposit, with eight in ten saying money held unfairly

3 October 2018


  • More than five in ten lose their deposit in full, despite over two thirds disputing it
  • More male students get their money back than women
  • Students lose an average of £150 of their rental deposits while at university
  • Lack of experience means many students fail to spot cost of renting

Cash-strapped students are being hit with an average bill of £150 at the end of their tenancy, with eight in ten saying the money was held back unfairly.

New research1 from Nationwide FlexStudent reveals that around half of students (49%) don’t get their full deposit back during their time at university, with just under eight in ten (79%) saying the money was held without a justified reason.

Of those that lost their deposit, more than five in ten (55%) lost it in full, and although more than two thirds (68%) of these disputed the loss, less than a third (29%) got the total amount back as a result, while just under a fifth (19%) didn’t get anything back at all.

The research, which surveyed over 1,000 students who left university in the last two years, was conducted to highlight the money struggles of university students and the lack of awareness and experience across areas such as housing and budgeting.

It highlights gender as playing a big part in success rates of getting a refund, with male students (39%) far more likely to get a refund compared to their female counterparts (22%). A quarter (25%) of female students get nothing back after complaining, compared to around one in ten (11%) male students. However, male students lose more money on average (£167) than female students (£141).

The poll also found that many students have come to accept that they might lose some of their deposit, with close to seven in ten (68%), saying they didn’t expect to get all their money back in full. The average amount of deposit lost is £150 – around half of the national average student deposit2.

When it comes to saving money, over half of students surveyed (55%) said they didn’t haggle on rent, two in five (40%) didn’t check how much their property agents were charging them, three in five (61%) didn’t shop around for utility deals, just under two thirds (65%) didn’t take meter readings, over seven in ten (77%) didn’t request a TV licence refund while they were away from the property and more than a quarter (28%) didn’t check if they could live in the accommodation over the summer months.

Students surveyed also said that housemates left them out of pocket, with just over a fifth (21%) saying they didn’t pay the bills on time and the same percentage saying they borrowed money without paying it back. Just under a fifth (19%) reported that housemates caused damage to the property and 11 per cent said they refused to pay bills at all.

Carl Burke, Nationwide’s Head of Current Account Products, said: “University life can be a challenge, particularly as students acclimatise to standing on their own two feet. We would always urge students to prepare for living away, so that there is less chance of a nasty surprise when their time at university comes to an end.


“When it comes to getting a rental deposit back, the first rule is to keep a property clean and damage-free. Students should also make sure their landlord protects their deposit with an authorised scheme, agree an inventory at the time of renting and read the small print on the tenancy agreement. Other ways of keeping on top of finances include setting a budget and finding ways to manage bills with housemates to ensure they don’t end up out of pocket.”

Nationwide’s FlexStudent is the UK’s only completely fee-free student current account. It offers an overdraft that grows from £1,000 in the first year of university to £3,000 in year three. The account offers 1% AER in credit interest on balances up to £1,000 and is linked to Nationwide’s Simply Rewards cashback shopping scheme.

Notes to Editors:

1 Censuswide research: total sample size was 1,003 students. The survey ran from the 13/08/2018 to 17/08/2018.

2 Based on average deposit of £301 – source: https://www.savethestudent.org/accommodation/national-student-accommodation-survey-2018.html

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