When your tenancy comes to an end, one of the most important considerations will be your tenancy deposit and how much of it you'll get back from your landlord. Once you hand the rental property back to your landlord, they will inspect it to see what condition it has been left in. The idea is that you return the property in the condition it was given to you at the start of the tenancy. If there are things that don't match with the inventory, for example missing or broken items, the landlord may well decide to make a deduction from your deposit to cover the cost of repairs or replacements.
You are, of course, well within your rights to dispute any deposit deductions your landlord tries to make. In the majority of cases, you should be able to come to an agreement. However, if no agreement can be reached then the case will need to be referred to the resolution service of the deposit protection scheme your money was held with. Deposit disputes can be arduous and time-consuming. With this in mind, it’s in everyone’s interest to avoid this eventuality if possible, treating it as a last resort. For most tenants, particularly those moving between rental properties, getting their deposit back in full is vitally important. It’s therefore crucial that you make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of receiving your deposit back in full without having to resort to a deposit dispute.
What are the most common reasons for deposit deductions?
Our survey of over 20,000 tenants revealed that 12.5% of renters have had a deposit withheld by their landlord.
The three most common reasons for a deposit being withheld were:
- Cleaning (39%)
- Other (28%, a variety of reasons including damage to the fixtures and fittings)
- Redecorating costs (19%)
Other common reasons for deposit deductions included damage to fixtures and fittings, carpet damage or the state of the garden. Similar research, released recently by the Deposit Protection Service, found that over a fifth of student renters lost part of their tenancy deposit at the end of their contract. Once again, cleaning was the most common issue causing landlords to make deductions from deposits. Other key reasons included:
- Property damage
- Redecoration costs
- Rent arrears
- Gardening costs
- Missing items
- Outstanding bills
What can you do to increase the chances of getting your full deposit back?
Here are three steps which can help you to receive your deposit back in full at the end of your tenancy…
Treat cleaning as a priority
As we can see from the above research, cleaning should be one of your top priorities when you're preparing to leave your rental property. It may even be worth your while paying for a professional clean, which would likely work out cheaper than if your landlord charged you for a professional cleaner and deducted the costs from your deposit.
A professional clean will take care of the areas you might forget to clean yourself. It will also be able to tackle some of the most difficult areas to clean properly, such as the oven. If you do decide to take on the end of tenancy clean yourself, you'll need to invest in quality cleaning supplies and read up on how to carry out an effective deep clean of a property.
Use the inventory to your advantage
The inventory is an extremely useful document when it comes to ensuring your deposit is returned in full. You must make sure that you're happy with everything documented about the property's condition at the start of the tenancy before signing off the inventory. Then at the end of the tenancy, you'll need to go back to the original inventory and make sure that everything matches up with the condition of the property you're handing back.
If your landlord does decide to make deductions which you don't agree with, you can use the inventory to help you state your case.
Communication will always be key
Good communication between tenants and landlords can help to foster a smooth and harmonious tenancy for all parties. And when it comes to your deposit, frequent and proactive communication becomes even more valuable.
During the tenancy you'll need to let your landlord know as soon as something is broken or needs fixing. This can help them to stop small issues escalating into more significant problems. If the landlord has been given the opportunity to remedy an issue during the tenancy, the chances of them making a deduction from your deposit relating to the same problem when the contract ends are vastly reduced.
Good communication is also vital at the end of the tenancy if the landlord does decide to make a deduction from your deposit. By discussing the issue and coming to a fair agreement, you may be able to persuade them to reduce the deduction or waive it altogether.
Although the majority of tenants do receive their deposit back, you must do everything in your power before, during and after the tenancy to minimise the opportunities for your landlord to make a deduction.