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 you've left it in. The idea is that you return the property in the condition you received it in 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, 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. Getting their deposit back in full is vitally important for most tenants, particularly those moving between rental properties. It's therefore crucial that you make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of receiving your deposit back in full without resorting 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?
Receiving your full deposit can be crucial for many tenants, especially if you're moving to another rental and need to pay a new deposit. Even if you're not reliant on it, it's always nice to recoup as much as possible.
Here are three steps that can help you 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 preparing to leave your rental property. It may even be worth your while paying for professional cleaning, 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 challenging areas to clean correctly, such as the oven. If you 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 clean a property effectively.
Use the inventory to your advantage
The inventory is beneficial to ensure your deposit is returned in full. You must ensure 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 decides to make deductions you disagree 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 minor issues from escalating into more significant problems. If the landlord has been allowed 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 decides 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 most tenants 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.