Tenancy deposits are there to protect landlords in the event of unpaid rent or damage to their property. Most tenants will get their full deposits back, but there are instances where the landlord may need to keep part – or all – of it to cover various costs. ARLA Propertymark asked its members for the most common reasons why tenants don’t get their deposits back.
Keep it clean
Almost nine in ten letting agents (88 per cent) said the main reason tenants don’t get their deposits back is because they leave the property dirty or messy. In most instances, properties are professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, so while you can clean it yourself when you vacate the property, and aren’t required to use a cleaning company, landlords expect the same level of cleanliness as documented in the inventory at the start of the agreement. To avoid any disputes, you should take photos at the start and end of the tenancy to use as evidence.
Lack of maintenance
Tenants are expected to maintain the property they’re renting; which includes keeping gardens in the same state they were in when you moved in. However, 44 per cent of letting agents claim that lack of maintenance is another major reason why deposits are often held back.
The most common reasons why tenants don’t get their (full) deposits back at the end of tenancy agreements
Percentage of agents who selected each option
Lack of sufficient cleanliness 88%
Lack of maintenance (i.e. overgrown gardens) 44%
Direct damage to the property and its contents 39%
Unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy 31%
Damage due to carelessness and lack of maintenance 29%
Unwanted personal belongings left behind 12%
Keys not returned at the end of tenancy 2%
Unpaid bills at the end of the tenancy 2%
Pest infestation 2%
Direct damage to the property and its contents
When you’re renting a property, it’s tempting to stick your own photos on the wall, or hang your own pictures, but direct damage like this is another top reason why tenants don’t get their full deposits back (39 per cent). Plain walls can be boring, but using white tac can avoid greasy marks, or even just asking your landlord if you can hang a few pictures in sensible places will likely avoid deposit deductions.
Deposits cannot be returned until all rent arrears are paid but the fourth most common reason why they aren’t returned is unpaid rent (31 per cent). By setting up a standing order at the start of a tenancy, you can ensure your rent is always on time, which will save you from issues when you leave the property.
Sally Lawson, President, ARLA Propertymark comments: “When you’re leaving a property you’ve been renting, the general rule is to leave it as you found it. Make sure you haven’t left any personal belongings behind, and that the property is clean and tidy for the next tenants. You should flag any damaged items to your letting agent or landlord during the agreement, so that when you leave, it doesn’t come as a shock. This will also help you develop a good relationship with them, which will be useful for any reasonable negotiations about the deposit.
Finally, you should always take photos of the property at the start and at the end of your contract, so that if you need to dispute any of the deposit deductions, you can evidence your points.”