How can I make sure my landlord doesn’t withhold my deposit unfairly? What are my rights?
Knowing your rights as a tenant and ensuring you do your research before moving into a property is the best way to ensure you are able to get your deposit back. A detailed inventory should always be agreed upon between the tenant and landlord with lots of pictures included to be able to compare the condition from the beginning to the end of the tenancy. Usually, a professional letting agency will arrange the inventory on behalf of tenant and landlord, a copy of which should be signed by both parties.
If any damage or maintenance issues 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. The most common reasons for landlords withholding deposits from tenants are for rent arrears, outstanding utilities and bills, cleaning and gardening costs and damage to the property, however reasonable wear and tear to the property must be expected and it is often difficult to understand the difference between wear and tear and damage. Please see the Shelter website for further information on what deductions may be acceptable.
Once you move out of the property the landlord or their agent is obliged to advise you of how much they are planning to return to you and to do this within 10 days of an amount being agreed. If you are unable to agree with your landlord as to how much of your deposit they are going to return to you then you are able to raise a dispute with the scheme under which the deposit was protected. Each of the Deposit Protection schemes offer an 'Alternative Dispute Resolution Service' (ADR) as a free alternative to going to court. The adjudicator of the scheme will look at evidence provided by both parties and will decide whether the deductions are fair and agree to the deposit amounts that each party are due; their decisions will be final. See Deposit Protection for Tenants.
2nd June 2015
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