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Every Penny Counts - getting your tenancy deposit back

When your current tenancy ends, you’ll be hoping to receive the money back that you paid in deposit at the start of the contract. To give you the best chance of receiving your full deposit back, we’ve put together a list of practical things to do before you move out

When your current tenancy ends, you’ll be hoping to receive the money back that you paid in deposit at the start of the contract. To give you the best chance of receiving your full deposit back, we’ve put together a list of practical things to do before you move out:
 

1. Check that your deposit is registered with one of the official Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes

Before you even begin to think about packing a box it’s time to dig out your tenancy paperwork. If your landlord/letting agent took a deposit from you then check that they have protected your deposit in a Tenant Deposit Protection Scheme. 

It is a legal requirement for them to do this and to also give you ‘prescribed information’ about the scheme where your money has been deposited within 30 days of receiving it. 

These schemes were set up to protect your interests and to arbitrate if there is a dispute about how much money you should be entitled to get back after your tenancy has come to an end. If you have any doubts about whether your deposit is protected, then check before your tenancy has come to an end. Ask your Landlord for this information and check out this link to Shelter which gives information on how to check with all three TDS schemes direct.   

If you discover that your deposit hasn’t been protected, then please contact the Leeds Beckett Students’ Union Advice Service for further advice about what to do. 
 

2. Check the Inventory

On moving in, you may have been provided with an inventory listing all of the fixtures, fittings and furniture included in the property and their condition when you moved in. Go through this list and check each area/item to see how they compare. 

Where general ‘wear and tear’ and/or damage has occurred make a record including details of the item - make; quality; estimated replacement cost etc 

The landlord or letting agent may also arrange to check the property with you (or just after you have moved out) in order to assess any damage that may have occurred during the tenancy. Do not solely rely on the landlord’s account. Make your own ‘check out’ report with photographs. This will provide you with an independent record if a dispute arises.
 

3. Deposit Deductions 

The landlord can make a claim at the end of the tenancy to retain some or all of the deposit for unpaid rent or damages. These claims must be reasonable.   

If you do not agree with the landlords proposed deductions, then you do not have to accept them. Raise a dispute.

It is your money. Held by or on behalf of the Tenancy Deposit Company on your behalf for the tenancy term. It is for the Landlord to make a case to retain some or all of the deposit.

Remember that the landlord cannot make charges against your deposit for reasonable ‘fair wear and tear’ however disputes can occur where the landlord feels that you have caused damage or excessive wear above this level. Examples may include:

• Marks on the walls from blue tack/adhesive/picture hooks.

• Burns, stains or water marks on carpets, flooring, or furniture.

• Furniture Items that have been removed and not put back.

• Damage or disrepair made worse through failure to report promptly. 

However

  • Landlords claiming the cost of replacing an item should take into account the age; quality and condition of the item and claim accordingly. Full replacement cost of an item with a higher specification may be challenged. 
  • Restoration of décor should be proportionate. landlords should accept a level of ‘wear and tear’ and provide full quotes/invoices for any work undertaken.
  • Landlords should not seek to profit from claiming deposit deductions. Landlords should assume that the property will not be returned to the exact same position before tenants moved in. Reasonable wear and tear should be expected. 
     

4. CLEAN!

Sounds obvious right? Many tenancy agreements state that the tenant should return the property to the Landlord in the same condition it was let to them (minus ‘fair wear and tear’).

Before you leave the property and hand the keys back make sure that you give the property a thorough clean (including appliances). Look where you usually don’t, the top corners of rooms, on top of the fridge etc. Remove all of the rubbish, unplug all appliances, make sure all the doors and windows are locked and double-check for any oddities you may be responsible for in your tenancy agreement – such as replacing non-working lightbulbs, making sure the garden is tidy and the cleaning of windows, as tenants can often get caught out here. 
 

5. Get final bills for utilities 

If you are renting inclusive of all of your bills, contact your landlord before you move out, to get confirmation that you don’t owe them any additional money for going over any ‘fair usage’ tariff they may have in place. You may need to provide them with final meter readings. Keep a (photographic) record of the readings on the date of leaving.

If you are responsible for paying for your own bills then before moving out, contact all of your utility providers and let them know the end date of your tenancy, provide them with final meter readings and a forwarding address where they can send the final bill. Keep a full record of the actual readings.

Many tenancy agreements state that that the landlord will want to see proof of payment of final balances of any outstanding bills before agreeing to release a tenant’s deposit. 


6. Joint Liability for contractual obligations

Please remember that if you have signed a joint tenancy agreement, deductions from your deposit may also be used towards the payment of any outstanding rent arrears of any of the other joint tenants.  So regardless of all the actions listed above, if one your housemates owes the landlord rent then your deposit may go towards paying off those arrears. 
 

What about getting my deposit back at the end of the tenancy?

When your tenancy ends the landlord should return your deposit as long as the rent is up to date and there is no damage. If your deposit has been protected, you should get it back within 10 days, providing you and your landlord/agent agree on the amount you should get back. If there is a dispute about the amount to be returned or the landlord refuses to pay, it may be possible to use the relevant Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Please note that for certain schemes, disputes have to be registered within a certain time e.g., 12 weeks. If in doubt, seek advice or register the dispute, which can be withdrawn if the issue is settled. 
 

Where can I get advice about getting my tenancy deposit back? 

If you would like any further information or advice about getting your deposit back, please contact Leeds Beckett Students’ Union Advice Service – it’s what we’re here for!

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