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Tenancy Facts: Deposits
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Tenancy Facts: Deposits

Written by Sam | April 5, 2018

Definition: A deposit is a returnable sum payable to the owner/agent.  It is normally held against any end-of-tenancy rent arrears, wilful damage, and any essential cleaning.

It usually covers:

  • Damage to the property or its fitting in excess of wear and tear
  • The cost of cleaning necessary to return the property to a lettable condition
  • Damage to décor
  • The cost of removing large amounts of waste from the property
  • The cost of replacing locks or keys if keys are not promptly returned
  • Outstanding rent

*The deposit cannot be used to cover reasonable wear and tear which you have paid for in your rent.*

Hit the link to find out what wear and tear is!

To find out more what constitutes damage and how to avoid getting into legal battles, take a look at our Tenancy Facts: Damage Blog. It has some good tips on how to get your deposit back and what to do if anything does break!

Landlords who use Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (nearly all landlords use this type of agreement) are now required to place any deposit with a Government-authorised scheme (Deposit Protection Scheme), which will protect your money and offer independent adjudication in the event of any dispute at the end of your tenancy. Students who have kept their rented property in good condition can be confident that they will not have their deposit withheld unfairly. This also stops the landlord from spending the deposit on other things while you are living in the house and makes sure they can give it back at the end.

The landlord must pay your deposit into one of the three authorised schemes within 30 days of receiving your deposit. If this doesn’t happen, there could be a financial penalty to the landlord or agent and you can be backed by the courts. Each case is individual so please don’t take this as a guarantee.

Application Fees

These no longer exist, you shouldn’t be having to pay an application fee!

What if my deposit is not returned at the end of my tenancy?

Write to your landlord if you don’t get your deposit back within two to four weeks at the end of your tenancy. If you can’t resolve the dispute with your landlord, notify the deposit scheme, and follow their instructions for raising a dispute.

Read the scheme’s online guide to disputes for info about what evidence to provide. Remember you have to raise a dispute within three months of the end of the tenancy.

Before you leave the house you should have an end of tenant inspection where the letting agent will assess the overall state of the house to see if they need to charge you for anything. At this stage, it is wise to take pictures of your room and anything else you see important. You should be able to compare it to when you first moved in.

What About a Joint Tenancy?

What is joint tenancy? Exactly as it says on the tin, it’s where there is more than one person on the tenancy. These situations are most popular in the dual occupancy or in the less common aspect, where everyone in the house is on the same contract.

Deposit schemes prefer a lead tenant who has the whole deposit for the house protected in their name. If you consent to this then make sure that you trust your co-tenant to give you the money back at the end of the let. The lead tenant is also the only tenant who has access to the dispute procedure so make sure they consult you before agreeing to any deductions that will affect you.

The issue here is that there can be many in the house and that if the damage wasn’t done by you, you will still have to pay a share. This is the same complication with bills, companies like one nominated person that is a representative for the house and it’s up to them to gather money or return it.

When Should You Pay Your Deposit?

After you have signed the contract and not before. Would you pay rent for a house you don’t live in or for a product that isn’t coming to you? Always after.

Please note that this isn’t your first months rent either! This is separate and sometime doesn’t count to rent, however, some companies take a ‘deposit’ and then knock it off the first months rent because they don’t ask for deposits!

How Much Should My Deposit Be?

This depends, usually it is around your first months rent and can’t be any higher due to new legislation of binning application fees for renters.

We usually see is £250 and around that area, the national average is £289 roughly!

Most Common Reasons For Deposits Not Being Returned

  • Messy rooms
  • Messy communal areas
  • Limescaled toilets
  • Messy and non defrosted fridge or freezers
  • Messy kitchen and in particular cookers & hobs
  • Carpet burns
  • Lost and late keys
  • The house needing a full house clean

On a Joint Tenancy Can I Get My Deposit Back If I Leave Early?

In short no. You won’t be able to get your portion of the deposit until everyone has left.

How To Make Sure You Get Your Deposit Back

  • Take pictures when you first move in
  • Ask for an inventory
  • Replace anything that you accidentally break or report it to your landlord or letting agent as soon as it happens and you can offer to replace it
  • Keep the house clean and do this regularly
  • Clean everything at the end of the tenancy and before you hand it back
  • Use the inventory to see what the agent will be looking at
  • Use the inventory you had at the start and take pictures as you are going through the end of tenancy checklist, this will give you a comparable to use
  • Don’t steal or break anything!
  • Don’t leave rubbish in the house
  • If you leave early make sure that the others who are left behind keep it clean

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