Holding deposits are a maximum of one month’s rent and these are paid to the landlord/agent when you are sure that you want to rent the property. The agent will then take it off the market and consider your offer. If you change your mind then you will lose this money. If your offer is rejected then you will get your money back. If your offer is accepted then your holding deposit will go towards your safety/tenancy deposit.
Safety/tenancy deposits are equal to up to 5 weeks’ rent, and this is kept in a government protected scheme. If your landlord goes bankrupt/rogue then your money is still protected. This money can also be used by the landlord at the end of your tenancy to fix/clean anything that you left in a poor state. If you want to dispute this claim then the deposit protection scheme will mediate this. Your landlord should send you details of where they are storing your money within 14 days of you sending it.
Before you sign the contract, make sure you are 100% ready to sign. It is a legally binding document so it would be very difficult, if not impossible to revoke it once you have signed. ULHS can make sure you have the right type of contract. Usually a contract between friends is jointly and severally liable, meaning that you are all responsible for one another. This means that if one of you breaks something or falls behind on rent, then the others will have to pick it up. Make sure you are sure of your flatmates before you get into a legal agreement with them!