How can I get my deposit back in a co-tenancy situation?

My previous co-tenant continues to rent the flat that I have moved out of. The landlords claim my former housemate should give me the deposit money back and he is not responding. Who should repay my deposit?
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Question: Last June, I moved out of a flat I had shared with a co-tenant for almost eight years. He continued to rent the property, this time with his girlfriend. I’ve emailed the landlords repeatedly to recover my deposit of £500, but they claim it’s up to my former housemate to reimburse me — though I do not think the deposit has been repaid to him. The ex-housemate ignores my emails. Who should repay my deposit? My share of the deposit was paid to the agency acting for the landlords, and both shares of the rent were paid from my bank account.
Answer: Your tenancy appears to have begun some time in 2006 or 2007. The date your tenancy started is important because if you and your co-tenant entered into an assured shorthand tenancy after April 6, 2007, your landlord or his agent should have placed your deposit in a government-backed deposit scheme.

If this was the case, then you should be able to get your deposit back provided you did not breach the terms of your agreement, damage the property and you were not in arrears with your rent.
If there is a dispute, then your deposit is protected within the tenancy deposit scheme until the dispute is resolved and the scheme can arbitrate and make an award. Landlords can have a liability to pay a tenant up to three times the deposit for failing to lodge it in a scheme.
If your tenancy with your co-tenant was entered into prior to that date, then your deposit does not need to have been protected. In this case, your claim is against the landlord and you can issue a claim in the small claims court.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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