Many private landlord and letting agents will ask you to pay a tenancy deposit.
The tenancy deposit will often amount to around one month's worth of rent or less in the case of some private halls. It is important to be clear at the outset whether you are paying a tenancy deposit or rent in advance. This should be made clear in the tenancy agreement.
The landlord/agent may ask you to pay the tenancy deposit when you sign the tenancy agreement (contract). The money is held in a deposit protection scheme. It is returned to you when your tenancy finishes. If you owe rent, left the property dirty or caused damage, the landlord can deduct the cost from your deposit. However the landlord or agent cannot make deductions for fair wear and tear.
The landlord or agent must register the deposit within 30 days of receipt with one of the recognised deposit protection schemes which are Deposit Protection Service, Tenancy Deposit Scheme or My Deposits
What if My Landlord Does Not Protect My Deposit?
If the landlord/agent fails to protect the deposit with one of the schemes or provide the deposit scheme details within 30 days of receiving the deposit, then you can apply to the county court for the deposit to be protected or returned to you. The court also has discretion to award you compensation of between 1 and 3 times the amount of the deposit.
Getting Your Deposit Back at the End of Your Tenancy
At the end of your tenancy your landlord/agent will inform the deposit protection scheme that the tenancy has come to an end and how much deposit they think should be returned to you. You will then have a choice whether to accept this or to dispute it through your tenancy deposit protection scheme.
What Can My Landlord Claim Back at the End of a Tenancy?
Landlords may want to take some of the deposit to pay for rent arrears or damage to the property which occurred during the tenancy. You should check your tenancy agreement carefully to ensure that you understand what maintenance you are responsible for during your stay and what the landlord is responsible for.
How Long Should it Take to Get My Deposit Back?
If you and your landlord agree on the amount that will be returned then your landlord/agent must return your deposit within 10 days of agreement. If however, you are in a dispute with your landlord/agent over the amount of deposit to be returned, then it will be protected in the deposit scheme until the issue is resolved.
What if I Disagree with the Amount of the Deposit the Landlord wants to Give Back?
If there is a dispute between you and the landlord/agent as to how much deposit should be returned, then you can use the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process operated by your tenancy deposit protection scheme. Please note, you have 90 days to raise a dispute with your deposit protection scheme from the date your tenancy agreement ends.
They will look at the evidence provided by the tenants and landlord and then make a final decision on how much deposit is to be repaid to you.
If you or your landlord do not agree to use the ADR process then the dispute must usually be resolved by the county court.
In the case of a dispute, the deposit will be returned within 10 days of the scheme being notified of the ADR or county court's decision.
Tips to Get Back the Full Amount of Deposit
- Check your inventory at the start of the tenancy indicating any damage in the property. If the landlord does not provide an inventory, then write to them detailing any damage or faults
- During your tenancy, always report disrepair or breakages to your landlord immediately, preferably in writing
- Try to keep your property clean and tidy during the tenancy as it is very difficult to remove 9 months of rubbish and grime in one last big clean!
- Check your contract. Does it say the carpets need to be deep cleaned, or that all picture hooks need to be removed and filled in? If so, make sure these are sorted
- Ensure nothing's missing or broken. Check the inventory thoroughly to make sure everything's as it should be, and replace or fix as needed
- Take dated photos as proof you've left it in good order. These could be useful evidence later if a dispute arises over your deposit
- Have a proper deep clean
- Take final meter readings to make sure that you only pay for what utilities you have used while you were living in the property
- Return the keys to the landlord and ask for a receipt or return the keys in the way the tenancy agreement asks you to do