How to get your deposit back
Tenants often complain that landlords or their letting agents unfairly deduct money from their deposit or even keep the whole lot. So how do you make sure you get 100% of your deposit back?
Ask for it!
It’s your responsibility to ask your landlord or letting agent to refund your deposit. Write to them a few days before you leave asking how and when they will refund the money. You might need to provide your bank details or an address where they can send a cheque.
Check your tenancy agreement
Make sure you do everything specified in your tenancy agreement to ensure a full refund of your deposit. For example, it might state that you must leave the property professionally cleaned, or that you must steam clean carpets and/or mattresses and curtains. Do everything specified on the tenancy agreement.
Check the inventory
Thirdly, if you were given an inventory when you moved into the property, you should check this and make sure that you leave the property and any contents exactly as specified. So, if the inventory states that the property was cleaned to a professional standard, you must leave it cleaned to the same high standard.
If your landlord hasn’t provided an inventory, they have no proof of what the property was like when you moved in, but you should still try to leave it as you found it.
Make sure you clean – thoroughly
The cleanliness – or lack of- is one of the main reasons tenants forfeit some or all of their deposits so it’s best to use a professional cleaning company that provides a deposit guarantee. If the landlord or letting agent considers the property isn’t cleaned to a high enough standard these companies promise to return, but take care, some of their guarantees last for as little as 24 hours, which sometimes isn’t long enough for the landlord or agent to arrange a check out report. Best to check the property yourself after the clean and don’t be afraid to ask the cleaners to repeat some jobs – they often leave some limescale in bathrooms or greasy ovens or forget to wipe down doors – make sure you check all of these so that you don’t give your landlord any excuse to deduct money for a second clean
Best to keep the all receipts too, just in case you need proof.
Repair broken or damaged items
If there are any breakages or lost or missing items, you should try to arrange to get these repaired or replaced before you leave otherwise the letting agent or landlord might charge you more than the actual cost.
Don’t overlook the little things
Remember to replace blown lightbulbs, remove all rubbish and all of your personal belongings or, once again, you might find you’re charged a premium by the letting agent or landlord if they have to do these things themselves.
Don’t forget to also remove all rubbish from outside the property and leave any outside space such as garden or balcony as you found it.
Watch out for wear and tear
Your landlord can’t deduct anything from your deposit for fair wear and tear, such as the odd scuff on the wall or discoloured tile grout. This article tackles what is fair wear and tear and what’s excessive and how much your landlord can charge you for any additional damage.
It can be hard to work out what is wear and tear and what is damage, but this should be specified on any check out report.
Carefully compare your check out and check in reports
If the landlord or letting agents provide you with these, go through them with a toothcomb. Tedious, I know, but don’t assume the letting agent or landlord will have checked the check in report for any damage noted on the check out report – they might try to get away with charging you for it instead.
If they have charged you for any damage or missing items noted on the check in report, let them know and knock it off your bill.
Negotiate with your landlord
If you think your landlord or letting agent is trying to deduct too much from your deposit, you should discuss this with them and try to get the amount reduced. If you still can’t agree, you don’t have to accept this lying down.
What to do if you can’t agree?
Your landlord or letting agent should have protected your deposit in one of three government schemes and provided you with the details of the scheme they used. If they didn’t, they broke the law and you can claim a refund of up to three times the amount. If they did, find out where your deposit it protected and contact the scheme’s dispute resolution service.
When you contact the tenancy deposit scheme, your landlord will be informed and they or their letting agent will be asked to send the disputed amount to the scheme, where it will remain until its adjudicators settle the dispute. When they decide who should pay for what, they will refund you or the landlord.