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A Guide to Deposit Deductions and Disputes

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The main concern for tenants at the end of their tenancy, is getting their full deposit back. Unfortunately, deposit disputes do occur. These can cause a serious strain on everyone involved, ultimately leaving a sour taste in the mouth. Here’s everything you need to know as a tenant about deposit deductions and disputes, as well as your rights.

Tenancy deposit schemes

Since the introduction of the tenancy deposit schemes, billions of pounds of deposits have been protected by the government, where once they were at the mercy of landlords.

Under the schemes, your deposit remains your money at all times, and if you have adhered to the terms of your tenancy agreement, it will be returned in full.

If you have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement, both you and the landlord have to agree on the deposit return and how much money is deducted from it. This should fairly represent the cost of any repairs required.

If you are unhappy with the amount the landlord is trying to deduct or if the landlord is unwilling to enter into a conversation about the deposit return process, you must raise this with the tenancy deposit scheme currently holding your deposit.

It is the landlord’s responsibility, and your right as a tenant to know which tenancy deposit scheme your landlord has paid your money into.

Tenancy deposit disputes

The procedures you have to follow, if you have a dispute, will vary according to whichever scheme is holding your deposit. Though, the principles of resolving your dispute are common to all three schemes.

Most disputes arise because the landlord has unrealistic expectations regarding the state of the property when a tenant moves out. The majority of disputes are concerned with cleaning of the property and what constitutes fair wear and tear.

Check out procedures

An effective check out from the property is the best way to guarantee a full refund of your deposit. It is essential that both the tenant and the landlord are in attendance. This is so the landlord can see the state of the property while giving you the chance to explain any damage or repairs you have done to rectify the situation.

Before check out, the landlord should let you know what they expect of you and what is required prior to leaving the property.

Essentially, there are some key things you have to do:

  • Make sure the property is clean
  • Ensure it’s as close to the original condition as possible (not including any fair wear and tear)
  • Pay all bills
  • Send all readings to utility companies
  • Dispose of all waste

During the check out process, the landlord will compare the state of the property and its contents to what was recorded on the inventory and the schedule of conditions that were drawn up when you checked into the property. Any changes to these two lists will be noted down throughout the check out process.

Once the check out process is complete, the landlord should issue you with a check out report. This will detail any deductions, if required, to cover the damage they see fit to be repaired.

At this point, you can either accept their deductions or reject and appeal them. Alternatively, you could try to come to a mutual agreement. If you can reach an agreement, then this should be noted with both signatures and the date. If you dispute the deductions, the tenancy deposit scheme holding your deposit will offer a free dispute resolution service. Both you and the landlord will be required to submit your claims and evidence to support these. Any decision about your deposit by the dispute resolution service is final.

Leave little cause for dispute

Leave the property spotless! For a thorough end of tenancy clean it might be worth getting the professionals in.

Last Updated: August 22nd, 2023

Phil Spencer

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