There is nothing worse then getting stung with deposit deductions on top of costly moving fees for tenants. As an online estate agent we deal with 1,000's of tenants and landlords, so we hear the grumbles from both ends. Here are a few tips we have put together to help both sides getting in to a deposit dispute.
Good quality inventories are paramount and should include clear photographic evidence alongside the descriptive written word on the standard of cleanliness. Fair wear and tear does not cover cleanliness.
As well as condition, as the majority of disputes involve cleaning. This will allow letting agents/landlords and tenants to make an accurate comparison of the property from the start of the tenancy to the end, and negotiate any potential deductions.
The majority of deposit disputes are down to the cleanliness of the property on check-out not matching the cleanliness on check-in. Particularly appliances such as ovens not being cleaned or extractors.
- Remember to clean around the edges of all the rooms where dust can accumulate!
- Bins must be emptied as the property needs to be ready for a new tenant.
- If collection day is within a day or two, the representative may allow you to revisit the property to put the bins out.
- Don’t forget to give the garden a final once over before handing the keys back, a messy/overgrown garden is a common occurrence on check out that can be costly. Don’t forget to remove any weeds!
- Another common deduction from deposits is replacement lightbulbs. Simply take some spares to the check-out and replace.
- Any damage caused to the property will need to be rectified before the end of your tenancy.
- If you have installed nails/hooks onto walls, these must be removed (unless permission to leave them is obtained from the landlord/agency.) If you aren’t sure what to do about any damage caused during your tenancy, just ask your landlord/letting agent.
As a tenant, you should be aware that you have a general legal obligation to return the property as you found it, although some allowances may be made for reasonable wear and tear. So if a professional clean has been carried out, you must do the same at the end of your tenancy, which is not the same as a domestic clean, it's windows, skirtings, cupboards, fridges and more. Always remember to get a receipt for your professional clean or a guarantee, so you can get the cleaners to return if the inventory has issues, so you're not left out of pocket!
Any damage beyond this, such as broken appliances, items that don't belong to you, could jeopardise any returns of a full deposit, so it's worth fixing it before you move out (you may find this works out cheaper too, especially if it's a house share). Cross referencing what was there on move in day to what is there on your move out , if you inadvertently take an item that does not belong to you even if worn or used it will need to be replaced for a new version like for like, so have a check before move out day.
It’s really important to keep track of any documents, information and correspondence around your tenancy during your lease and until your deposit is returned.
Here's a full list of what you should keep hold of until the day your deposit is returned:
- Tenancy Agreement
- Check-in inventory - make sure you have copies signed by both parties too.
- Check-in/Check-out photos
- Keep records of any correspondence with your landlord/agent - if you made phone calls, make notes of the date/time and what was discussed.
It is also important to know who does and doesn't need to use a deposit scheme. If your tenancy agreement is an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) then your landlord legally has to use a deposit scheme. The maximum a landlord can legally hold for a tenancy is 5 weeks.
Also, please make the correct arrangements to be there at the property on check out day so you might need to take the day off work. If you aren't there you can't prove items were in tact and the property was clean etc..
Whether you use an online or traditional letting/ estate agent always be prepared don't leave it to chance.