The best way to ensure that a landlord doesn’t withhold a deposit is by doing research before the tenancy. Make sure your landlord or letting agent is credible, agree on a detailed inventory and take pictures. Using a professional letting agency ensures that proper procedures are followed.
All landlords or agents are obligated to enter a deposit into an accredited deposit protection scheme. They should also provide you with up-to-date, relevant safety certificates and a detailed inventory. In order to make sure your landlord or agent meets their obligations, you should look for proof of accreditation by relevant authorities, such as the Office of Fair Trading, the property ombudsman and ARLA.
It is better to agree on a detailed inventory at the beginning of the tenancy to avoid disputes over deposit at the end. If you take pictures, make sure these form part of a report which is dated and signed by both parties. Usually, a professional letting agency will arrange for a professional inventory on behalf of tenant and landlord, a copy of which must be signed by both parties.
If any damage does occur whilst you’re in the property, it’s best to raise the issue as soon as possible with the landlord or agent instead of waiting until the end of the tenancy. This way, you have advance notice of how much of your deposit you can expect to get back, and the landlord can plan ahead to complete necessary repairs before new tenants arrive.