With more people renting and staying in one property for longer than ever before, it’s crucial to know your rights as a tenant, including how to get a deposit back.
Make an inventory
Whilst many people believe a landlord can keep their deposit because of wear and tear, in fact landlords can only retain a tenant’s deposit due to serious incidences such as unpaid bills, rent or excess damage.
As a result, when you move into a property, always remember to make a comprehensive inventory of fixtures and fittings. This should accurately describe the appearance of the property, with any marks or damages noted before you move in and importantly, it can help prevent landlords from exaggerating claims against you.
It is a good idea to complete this inventory with the landlord when you move in and out, so everyone is on the same page. An added tip is to attach dated photographs of the property, fixtures and fittings and ensure both you and the letting agency keep hardcopies on file.
Keep everything in writing
Even if your landlord has given you verbal permission to change your property, make sure you also get written permission. Verbal permissions are easy for landlords to forget or deny. By having written communication, it’ll ensure everything is documented and will make fighting your case for the return of your deposit easier.
Throughout your tenancy keep detailed written records, noting any damage or repairs undertaken whilst you live in the property. It is important to find out who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the property and this should be set out in your tenancy agreement and agreed upon before your move in. As a result there will be no confusion about what you are liable for.
Deposit protection schemes
If you rent your home on an assured short hold tenancy that started after 6th April 2007, your landlord must put your deposit in a government backed tenancy deposit protection scheme. These schemes will make sure you get your deposit back, but only if you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement. If you think your deposit is being unfairly kept, then the scheme will protect your deposit until the issue is resolved with your landlord, even after you’ve moved out. Make sure you get a receipt for your deposit; this will confirm how much you have paid and how much you should get back.
If you are unsure or need any advice about renting and deposits then there are many impartial organisations and professionals who are trained to deal with the renting process. For example, our Managing Director Tony Jones, is the Welsh representative of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). ARLA can help you find an accredited landlord who will follow a strict code of conduct. In addition, Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter or a Solicitor will be able to offer you help and information, as well as providing sample inventories and legal support.
We hope this has provided you with enough information to help you whilst renting a property.