Want to see Your Security Deposit Again? Follow These Rules
Moving into a new property can be a truly exciting time. You can create many happy memories in a new home, whether it has been rented or bought.
These days, many more people are choosing to rent property instead of taking out a mortgage. According to Generation Rent, 13 million people are renting their homes today.
The number of privately rented properties doubled between 2000 and 2018 and is still increasing today.
Of course, one of the processes involved with renting a property is handing over a security deposit. It would be a strange individual who didn’t want to see that money returned. Nevertheless, many people fail to understand how they can help themselves to see that deposit again.
How much is your deposit worth to you?
Estimates differ, but as a general rule, the average deposit in England and Wales is somewhere in the region of £1,110. However, this figure can change quite wildly depending on which region and city you look at.
Generally, a landlord will ask for around 4 or 5 weeks’ deposit when a tenancy agreement is signed. The maximum that can be asked for by a letting agent or landlord is 5 weeks unless you are paying a yearly rent of more than £50,000.
Clearly then, to the average person, a deposit is a substantial sum that cannot just be dismissed.
What can you do to make sure you have a better chance of seeing your deposit again?
All landlords have rules and regulations they must comply with, but you as a tenant must also meet certain standards. Failure to comply with your agreement or to neglect the property can mean losing part or even all of your deposit.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can help yourself, and the law is on your side too. It is worth understanding the laws around your security deposit, and you can read more on that below.
Here are some rules that if followed, could help you get your deposit back.
Clean the property properly, even if it means paying out
Some people truly enjoy cleaning. For others, it is simply another chore that is necessary but mundane. When it comes to a tenancy ending, cleaning isn’t just important, it is crucial.
The number one dispute between a tenant and a landlord is over the cleanliness of the property. More than half of the disputes that ombudsmen hear are over cleaning, and landlords will often charge far too much for cleaning themselves.
To protect a deposit it is worth investing time and effort into cleaning the home. One of the best ways to do this properly is to hire tenancy cleaners who will leave the home spotless and gleaming.
If you use a professional cleaning service, your landlord has less reason to try and deduct from your deposit, and you are more likely to see it all returned.
Check the inventory
You have likely forgotten but when you moved in you would have signed an inventory, at least in most cases. Whether you took a lot of notice of this inventory is irrelevant in some ways, as now you are leaving it is going to be held against you if something is missing or damaged.
If you are about to move into a property, check the inventory thoroughly before you sign it. Check that the condition of the rooms and their items matches the description on the inventory. If you aren’t happy with anything, now is the time to bring it up, not 12 months down the line.
Don’t break your agreement
Your landlord has to comply with many regulations to be allowed to rent out their property. They are also entitled to set boundaries and rules about the use of their property by you.
If you break your tenancy agreement then you may be letting the door open for some of your deposit to be taken. Especially, if your lax behaviour has caused any damage or harm to the home.
Typical breaches of a tenancy agreement are subletting, smoking in the home when it isn’t permitted, keeping pets when the agreement forbids it, and trying to leave the contract early.
Read your tenancy agreement, and stick to the rules therein.
Ensure your deposit has been protected
You may be following the rules, but is your landlord? According to Shelter, up to 45% of tenants have witnessed illegal behaviour by their landlords.
One way that many landlords are still breaking the law is by not protecting security deposits properly. All deposits that are handed over to a landlord must be placed into one of three approved government schemes.
This must happen within a month of receipt, and if it doesn’t, you can take them to court. Don’t ignore this and think everything is going to be ok, these schemes have been put into place to help ensure that you will receive your deposit again.
Make sure you have paid your rent
Just as your landlord needs to protect your deposit, they also expect you to pay them on time. Failing to keep up with your rental payments is a surefire way to see your deposit disappear.
Some tenants try to dodge the last month’s rent as they believe this is a way to ensure that they get to keep their deposit. However, this will only lead to ill-feeling, and you will be unlikely to get a good reference for your next home.
Don’t ignore the carpets and rugs
Whether you use an end-of-tenancy cleaning service or not, you shouldn’t ignore the flooring.
Landlords will expect a certain amount of wear and tear over the duration of the tenancy agreement. This is fair and natural. Yet, there are limits to this, and if you have made huge wine stains over the carpet or have dog hairs embedded in the fibres, then you should seriously consider a carpet cleaning service.
There are different types of carpet cleaning and their importance shouldn’t be ignored. Unless you know how to clean a carpet properly, get a professional in if necessary.
Make repairs if needed
You aren’t responsible for certain repairs if they are under the landlord’s remit. Structural defects and such are not your concern. Nevertheless, if you had an accident that has damaged something in the home, you need to repair it. Alternatively, report it to the landlord and be upfront about it. They may fix it themselves and not deduct anything.
Use the Citizens Advice Bureau or legal action
If the worst comes to the worst and you find yourself battling to get your deposit back, then there are certain avenues you can take.
If your deposit has been protected then that scheme will hold on to it until all disputes have been settled. If you need further advice you can approach a solicitor, or go to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Taking legal action to recover a security deposit is always the last resort, and hopefully it will never come to that.
If you make sure the agreement is kept to, damages repaired, and the home is clean, you should by and large see your deposit back.
If you have a dispute over your deposit then communication will often resolve anything without the need for lawyers. Hopefully, by following the rules here your deposit will be safe, and it will be returned when you leave.