7 ways to increase the chances of getting your deposit back
The latest Statistical Briefing from The Dispute Service – which uses data from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, SafeDeposits Scotland and TDS Northern Ireland – has highlighted the top three reasons for deposit disputes across the UK during 2021-2022.
Cleaning is the biggest cause for complaint, with 50% of all disputes involving a cleaning claim in England and Wales; 47% in Northern Ireland and 71% in Scotland.
The second most common reason for a deposit dispute was damage to fixtures and fittings (46% in England and Wales; 45% in Northern Ireland and 46% in Scotland), followed by rent arrears (13% in England and Wales; 22% in Northern Ireland and 11% in Scotland).
If you’re keen to avoid being one of these statistics, there’s some simple advice to follow. Here’s what we recommend at the start, during and at the end of your tenancy if you want the best chance of getting your deposit back in full:-
- Pay attention at check in: the most useful check in procedures happen when the tenant and the landlord or agent are present. This way, everyone will see the condition of the property at the same time. The observations can then be cross-referenced against what’s noted in the inventory, with questions raised before the document is signed. If you see any signs of damage, ensure you flag it up and that’s is noted in writing before you move in.
- Check the tenancy agreement before personalising the property: even if your DIY skills are first-class, many landlords want their property returned in the same condition in which it was handed over. The tenancy agreement may state that drawing pins, nails, picture hooks and Blu Tack should not be used, and that repainting is prohibited. Any alterations that change a property’s appearance will cost money to be reversed, and a landlord can claim this back from the deposit.
- Repair any damage: day-to-day life will result in damage and living in a ‘tenant like manner’ requests renters undertake minor maintenance and resolve small defects, such as unblocking a sink or removing spilt nail varnish. Damage caused by accidents or the failure to attend to basic maintenance can be a cause of deposit deductions. A tenant’s responsibilities will be listed in the tenancy agreement and they will be liable for any damage caused by guests.
- Report major maintenance issues promptly: while tenants aren’t liable to pay for major maintenance, they are obliged to report damage or issues swiftly to the landlord/agent. For instance, a tenant should report a leaky shower tray so it can be repaired. If a tenant doesn’t notify anyone about the issue and it goes on to cause water damage, the landlord may seek financial compensation to cover his repair costs.
- Understand what a deep clean really means: a deep clean means spending time ensuring the entire property is free of dirt, dust, grease, limescale, finger marks and cobwebs. Failure to be really thorough can result in some or all of the deposit being withheld. An end of tenancy clean should include a deep clean of all kitchen appliances, including ovens, emptying cupboards and cleaning inside, removing all watermarks, dusting all surfaces, including the top of cupboards and skirting boards, and moving furniture to clean under and behind them. If in doubt, book a professional company to undertake a specific end of tenancy deep clean.
- Refer back to the inventory before check out: whether you’re repairing damage or cleaning, it’s vital to refer back to the inventory to see the condition of the property when you moved it. Everything should be returned to its original state and missing items replaced. Discrepancies will be picked up during the check out and may prompt the landlord to withhold funds.
- Ensure the rent is paid up: if you owe any rent at the time of check out, a landlord can recover this from your deposit. The best way to ensure your rent is always paid is to arrange a direct debit and keep your statements to prove all monies have been taken.
If you’re looking for a property to rent or have a property suitable for the lettings market, please get in touch.
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