Getting your deposit back

 

Steps to take from day 1

Getting your deposit back at the end of your tenancy is reliant on the condition you leave the property in and whether you have any un-paid rent at the end of the tenancy. The best way to do this is to start from Day 1 when you move into the property and take precautions throughout your tenancy.

 
  • Get confirmation in writing of what your deposit covers and when you can expect it to be returned to you.
  • Get a receipt
  • Get an inventory for the property. An inventory is a document that lists the furniture and items in the property and their condition. If you have been provided with an inventory you should always check it is accurate and that everything has been listed. Check items are in a working condition. Annotate the inventory as required and then agree it with the landlord. Both the tenant and the landlord should sign.
  • If you don’t receive an inventory write one yourself with an independent witness and ask them to sign and date it. Send a copy to landlord/agent.
  • It is a good idea to take dated photos of the property before you move your things in. This will give you a record of any damage and the state of the property before you have lived there. Keep copies of any photos and you could also send a copy to the landlord with your inventory.
  • Keep a note of the state of decoration. If anything is worn or damaged report to landlord in writing.
  • Keep copies of everything.
 
  • Take reasonable care of the house and furniture during the tenancy. Ask the landlord to remove any furniture you do not need. Do not store excess furniture in a place where it may become damp or damaged.
  • If anything does break or become damaged (e.g. a pipe starts to leak) you should minimise any damage and inform the landlord as soon as possible. It is a good idea to follow up any verbal communication with a letter in writing. Always ensure you keep a copy for your own records.
  • If you break something in the property that belongs to the landlord you should inform the landlord in writing and enquire about replacing the item. The landlord may let you replace this yourself or may charge you for the cost of replacing the item. Items should be replaced like for like, you should not be expected to replace an item for a new upgraded, and likely more expensive version
  • Clean regularly – one of the main costs taken from a deposit is for cleaning. If you clean regularly throughout your tenancy (particularly items like the oven) this will reduce the amount of cleaning that will be required at the end of the tenancy.
  • Get receipts for each rent payment
  • Pay your utility bills on time and in full and keep the bills to show what you have paid
 
  • Towards the end of the tenancy write to the landlord, inviting him or her to inspect the property to ask if he/she can see any problems so that you can put them right before you go. It is strongly advisable for you to be present for the inspection and you could also consider having a friend present as a witness.
  • Ensure that the property is cleaned thoroughly for the inspection and that the landlord is happy with the state of the property. Should any problems become apparent during the inspection, try to settle them then and there.
  • Check the inventory. All items should be present in the house still and in a similar condition (allowing for general wear and tear)
  • Weed and tidy the garden (if applicable). Remember that if you leave the property early, grass and weeds may have grown.
  • Settle all bills. Contact your utility providers and organise to cancel your accounts. Take final meter readings.
  • On moving out day do a final check of the inventory and make sure everything is clean and tidy. Take final photos of the condition of the property (ensure they are dated, you could even consider getting an independent witness to sign them).
  • Return the keys to the landlord, either in person or by registered post.
  • You should then try to agree an amount of your deposit to be returned with the landlord or letting agency. Remember they will need to provide receipts or invoices for any work to be carried out. Repairs or replaced items should be on a like for like basis and they cannot charge you for general wear and tear.
 

If you cannot agree on an amount to be returned, each of the deposit protection schemes has a dispute resolution service that you can use to help you settle the matter. Each scheme will have their own procedure to follow in order to report the dispute. You are likely to need evidence to support your claims which is why it is important to retain copies, photographs, receipts etc during the tenancy.

It is important to note that the landlord/agent will need to provide invoices/receipts for any work that they have had to do as a result of you living in the property, or for any cost they have incurred as a result of rent arrears or unpaid bills. They cannot keep your deposit to cover general wear and tear issues as it is expected that over time items will age and need to be replaced.

Once you have agreed on an amount to be returned, you should get your deposit back as follows:

  • Custodial scheme – both you and your landlord will need to complete a specific form. The scheme will then pay you the agreed amount within 10 days.
  • Insurance-based scheme – the landlord will have kept your deposit, they should then return it to you within 10 days of you asking for it.

If you have a dispute over the amount to be returned, the undisputed amount should be returned to you and depending on the scheme either the landlord or the scheme will keep the disputed amount until such time as an agreement is reached.

If you are unsure how or where your deposit has been protected you can contact the three schemes to see if your deposit has been registered.

If your deposit has not been protected correctly you may be able to take further action through the courts and may be able to claim 1-3 times the deposit as compensation (you can find further details in the deposits section or contact the Advice Centre to speak with one of our advisers.