Recovering your deposit

Taking a tenancy can be quite an expense for a tenant. Not only is it necessary to pay the monthly rent upfront but also to pay a large security deposit at the outset. This can, since June 2019, be a maximum of 5 week’s rent (in most cases). This security deposit remains the tenant’s money until the end of the tenancy at which point it will be returned – minus any costs for damages to the property incurred or breaches of the tenancy agreement during the stay. Concerns around recovering your deposit are common for tenants, however there are some key principals to remember which can reduce this stress.

Reputable landlords and agents seek to keep only what is necessary to remedy damages and breaches, particularly to make their property ready for its next tenant. There are several things to note from a tenant’s perspective that will help you retain as much of your deposit as possible.

1) Return it as you found it – It is a simple rule, if the property was let professionally clean, with the garden neat and tidy, you should return the property that way. If it was left uncleaned at the start of the tenancy, you can only be required to return it at that standard.

2) No betterment – An important thing to remember is that, as a tenant, you are not obliged to improve the property in any way. In fact, some light wear and tear is expected and excluded when it comes to deductions from the deposit. If it comes to a dispute, fair wear and tear will be allowed for.

3) Check your inventory – At the beginning of your tenancy, it is common and best practice for an independent inventory clerk to take an inventory at the property. This details, textually and photographically, the condition that the tenant received the property in. There will also (most likely) be an inventory on check out of the property. Check the differences between them – these are the things that you could be charged for. If no inventory is done, take pictures yourself to show the condition on move-in and move-out.

4) Keep proof of what you have done – If you had a professional cleaner come to the property, make sure you get a receipt for the works done. That way you can prove that you returned the property in a certain condition should a dispute arise.

5) Furniture replacement – If you broke a piece of furniture and it needs replacing, you will have to pay some of that cost. If it was already an aged piece of furniture, you would not be expected to pay the full price of a new replacement but instead to pay the value that the furniture was worth.

e.g. If a chair was broken that was £100 new but it was 5 years old and had a 10- year expected life span, you would be expected to contribute approximately £50 for the replacement of the chair.

6) Don’t be shrugged off – if you disagree with the landlord or agents proposed deductions from the deposit and you think their approach is unfair it will be for the deposit protection body – such as TDS – to decide on the right amount. Make sure you start the formal dispute process quickly to minimise the time it takes for the balance of your deposit to be returned.

If you are renting through an agent that you trust, it can reduce anxiety when it comes to ensuring you retain all of your deposit. We know that you will need this money when it comes to your next tenancy and we make sure to arrange for the return of as much as we possibly can as quickly as we can. Many of our tenants receive no deductions to their deposits because they return it in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy, and this is well documented from start to finish through use of an independent inventory clerk. We aim to build relationships with our tenants and will do our best to prepare them for the end of their tenancy so they can be as sure as possible that their deposit will be returned.