You’re moving house, you have been a great tenant and you want to get your tenancy deposit back. Getting your deposit back should be straightforward, but unfortunately it isn’t always the case.
According to the English Housing Survey a fifth of the UK’s population are renters, increasing by 10% in the last 20 years.
Interestingly, a study undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) showed that the average deposit of UK citizen was for four weeks rent. That’s around £800. With that much money on the line, we’re here to help. Therefore, here with the ultimate guide to get your tenancy deposit back.
And If you’re asking yourself ‘how do I get my full deposit back’? Rest assured, you’re in the right place.
Let’s Get Started.
Before we get started, here is a quick overview of your rights.
According to the law, your Landlord needs to have your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). Simple. This is if you have an Assured Short-Term Tennancy (AST). This basically means that you’re not a lodger. Or that your Landlord doesn’t live with you. And it follows, what are the tenancy deposit schemes?
There are three tenancy deposit schemes. The are; Deposit Protection Service, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and MyDeposits. If your landlord doesn’t have your deposit protected, you might be entitled to three times your deposit.
To make this as easy as possible, we have split this guide up. Let’s get into it.
If you haven’t moved into your new house or flat yet, this section is for you. Prevention is the best cure.
Therefore, we’ll cover everything you need to do in advance to give you the absolute best chances of getting your tenancy deposit back at the end of your tenancy.
We don’t need you to be Holmes. But the devil is in the details. Lots of Landlords are great humans who aren’t out to get you, but some unfortunately lack scruples. If you want to know what reasons your landlord can keep money from your deposit, make sure you check the fine print in the contract.
The nature of your tenancy contract should reflect the nature of your relationship. Understand what your Landlord can deduct from your deposit. If you’re renting from a lettings company, be sure to do your research on google. A quick google search will reveal if there are other disgruntles tenants. Easy to avoid.
What you want to pay attention to is anything with a ‘£’ in it. Look at all the fees. These are: late fees, cleaning fees, deposits – anything. If you’re not 100% sure on something, google it. Interestingly, lots of tenancy deposit disputes are actually around cleaning. And most importantly, if you don’t like one of the terms of the contract, raise it with the Landlord or Lettings Agent as something you want changing. If they won’t, there are plenty more houses in the sea.
Clarity and understanding are important, so be sure to understand what you’re getting into and make sure there is full transparency. If you want advice on some of the terms in your tenancy contract, head over to this part of the Citizens Advice website.
Ask your prospective Landlord which of the three Tenancy Deposit Schemes he/she is part of and ask for proof of that. When you speak with the Landlord or Letting Agent, clarify how you get your deposit back from the Landlord and when you can expect your deposit back.
This will save you a lot of time in the long run. Whilst you might be eligible for up to three times your tenancy deposit if the Landlord isn’t part of the scheme, that can be a lengthy court process.
If your Landlord is in one of these schemes, it’s good news. Woo! It is an indication that they are trying to do things above board and by the books. Whilst not a guarantee, it is an indication.
One of the greatest areas of disputes when it comes to getting your deposit back is damages. Often you get into a ‘he-said, she-said’. Ultimately it comes down to proof. Most people don’t think to, but it’s an amazing insurance policy to take out.
When you walk into your new place, it’s recommended that you record everything. Take pictures of anything you see that looks suspect and email them to yourself. Do a walk around your house/flat and document any breaks, faults or anything that you see. Ideally, you want to take the Landlord or Letting Agent around with you so you can both see and agree on what’s there.
Once you have finished your tour, get those damages/faulty items in writing and get it signed. So many people don’t do this, but this could crucial in getting you tenancy deposit back.
Remember, this isn’t about being “funny”. This is about transparency and having contracts reflect the nature of the agreement. If your Landlord really doesn’t want to do that, wonder why. Are they someone with whom you’d like to enter a legal contract with in the first place?
Top tip: Ask the Landlord, what is currently wrong with the property? And ask for an inventory.
This will show you the landlord’s awareness of the property. It can help by excluding potential costs for defects from landing on your door. The more informed, the better.
If you break something or something gets damaged, don’t wait until the end of the tenancy to bring it up. Keeping a healthy and transparent relationship with your landlord can stop you from worrying about things like if what your landlord can deduct from your deposit.
First of all, try to fix it or replace it yourself – that will generally be much cheaper. But, if you can’t fix it, let your landlord know earlier. They will appreciate the transparency and it will avoid any shocks later down the line. Better communication = better time.
This one might seem a really obvious. In getting your tenancy deposit back this is often overlooked. Have you wondered if a Landlord can keep a deposit for cleaning? Understandably, they actually can. But it does need to be reasonable.
Generally, leave it as you would expect to find it. It means things like mopping the floor. But it wouldn’t extend to things like undertaking a deep clean of the oven. Generally, they can’t make you tidy it to a better standard than when you moved in.
LandLords tend to be more receptive and reasonable around breaks if the house has been cleaned well. It’s also worth cleaning yourself to avoid an exuberant cleaning fees they might try to impose
To prevent having to handle a situation where your Landlord won’t give you your deposit back, repair anything before you leave. Hopefully you will have done this throughout your tenancy, but things can happen and sometimes we don’t even realise.
When you have a leaving date, make sure that you organise a date for both you and the landlord or lettings agent to walk around your property together. The bottom line? You don’t want the inspection to happen when you’re not there.
On the day that you leave you will also want to do a video tour of your apartment. This will be demonstrable proof as to what the house looked like the day you left, should there be a dispute with your Landlord returning your deposit.
At this point in the conversation you will want to understand how you get your deposit back from your Landlord, if you’re not sure already. Ask them how it works and how many days after leaving the property they will return your deposit.
If you’re following this guide, you shouldn’t even have to worry about the deposit protection service or what to do if your landlord refuses to give your deposit back. They shouldn’t, and if they do refuse to give you your deposit back we’ll show you how to get it back.
You want to tie things up nicely when you leave. You want a clean break from the situation. So, make sure that you pay off any outstanding bills before you leave and inform all of your companies that you have changed address. We actually have an online change of address form to help with that, you can check it out here.
Lastly, when you leave, ensure that all of the windows are locked and you secure both doors then proceed to drop the keys off at the requested location.
Most of the time you don’t need to worry how to get your deposit back from your Landlord, because they will give it to you.
The first step in getting your deposit back, is to clarify when your Landlord will give you your tenancy deposit back. Are you’re wondering what to do if your Landlord is refusing to give you your deposit back? We’ll get onto that shortly.
Firstly, you should have had your walk-through and have agreed any deductions from your deposit. However this was agreed, make sure that you formally request your deposit back via text or email – so you have a paper trail.
You will have legal options to stop your Landlord withholding your deposit. However, it is much easier to come to an agreement between yourselves. If text isn’t working, agree to meet for a coffee or have a chat on the phone to try and resolve things
Evidence helps claims. Make sure to challenge any proposed deductions to your deposit. You can argue that it was fair wear and tear. You can even explain that it was in the property before you moved in (if that was the case).
Landlords can make deductions for things like; failure to pay rent, leaving the property in a mess, or just damaging the property in general. What they can’t deduct from your deposit are things like repairing existing damage, any fair wear and tear and cleaning the property to a standard higher than it was when you moved in
Evidence is key. Any evidence, photographic or otherwise, will help to support your argument to the Landlord. If he doesn’t budge, it will be time to take more formal action,
So, let’s assume you’re disputing something. Either your Landlord is refusing to give you your deposit back in the UK, or you think your Landlord isn’t being reasonable. The first question is: Was your deposit protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
To search, you will only need your surname, the start date of your tenancy, your deposit amount and your postcode.
If you can’t find it, check to see if it is under a co-habitee’s details.
If your Landlord has refused to put your deposit in one of the above schemes within 30 days of you moving in they can be fined. The financial penalty can be up to three times your rent.
Now, let’s look at your specific questions.
If your Landlord hasn’t protected your deposit (they didn’t use a of the tenancy deposit scheme), you can take it to court. It’s simple to resolve. This resource will help you find the appropriate court or tribunal to resolve your case.
Each deposit scheme has its own recourse for disputes, so you will need to check yours individually.
So, what is the law regarding returning tenancy deposits? According to the legislation with Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP), your Landlord needs to return your tenancy deposit to you with 10 days following the date at which you and your Landlord agreed how much should be returned. That’s it.
Timeframes might differ from tenancy deposit scheme to tenancy deposit scheme and whether or not your Landlord wants to make any deductions to your tenancy deposit
Each Tenancy Deposit Scheme stipulates that your deposit must be paid back within 10 days. If the Landlord does not, each tenancy deposit scheme has its own recourse. Check them them directly. If your deposit isn’t protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, then you can take your Landlord to court.
A Landlord will be able to deduct from your tenancy deposit for a few things. These are items like damages, missed rent payments, the cost of cleaning your apartment (to the standard at which it was given), loss of keys etc… Your Landlord cannot deduct for costs pertaining to fair wear and tear or defects which existed prior to you moving in.
Legally speaking, if your deposit was protected by a Tenancy Protection Scheme you will be able to seek recourse with them yourself. If your tenancy deposit wasn’t protected, you will be able to seek legal action. You can find the appropriate tribunal or court here.
According to the Tenancy Deposit Protection Legislation, your landlord has to return your deposit no later than 10 days following the date at which you agreed how much should be returned.
Document everything and provide proof to your Landlord. This might mean undertaking repairs your self if necessary. Legally, you will be able to contend your tenancy deposit through one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes. If your Landlord hasn’t put your money there, you might be entitled up to three times your deposit.
The short answer is yes. However, they cannot charge to clean the house/flat to a standard greater than it was when you took the place. The charges do need to be reasonable. The first point of action is to check that the landlord protected your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. If they have, they will adjudicate. If they haven’t, then you can take them to court or tribunal.