Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, any money taken prior to the signing of an agreement is treated as a holding deposit. Holding deposits are limited to one week’s rent. According to ARLA, this means that agents and landlords cannot ask a tenant to pay their tenancy deposit and/or first month’s rent before the contract has been signed.
If you are being asked to pay your deposit before signing your tenancy agreement, check that it is less than one week's rent to be treated as a holding deposit or request to view and sign the tenancy agreement before paying the deposit. The deposit requested as part of the tenancy agreement is capped at 5 weeks' rent under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.