Our first tip is a key one. Landlords are required to protect your rental deposit in one of the Government’s three approved deposit protection schemes. They should then send you a certificate and information about the scheme to confirm that the deposit has been protected.
If you don’t receive one of these within a month of paying the deposit then ask for a copy from your landlord. You can download our free letter to do this here. If your landlord can’t provide a certificate then consider sending them on of our demand letters – see our letters section. Alternatively contact us and we will make enquires for you free of charge.
If your deposit is protected then the landlord has to apply through the deposit protection scheme arbitration process for any deduction in the deposit at the end of the rental period. The landlord has to prove that a reduction is appropriate e.g. by showing damage to the property or non-payment of rent. The deposit protection scheme will then adjudicate and decide if it is fair to make a reduction. Without this, you would be open to arbitrary reductions being made by the landlord who, don’t forget, would already have your money.
Another key area is proof of the condition of the property. If a full inventory isn’t prepared including photos when you move in then do your own! Make a list of all items/furniture and take photos of them. You should also photograph any stains or existing damage. Make sure the photos are date stamped and then keep them safe. Don’t leave them on your phone in case of loss or replacement! A good idea is to send copies to the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy. We have included a letter in our free downloads section to do this.
When taking photos, make sure you include the meter readings.
We know it sounds obvious but take care of the property. Don’t stick posters on the wall without permission etc. Check the agreement you have with your landlord to ensure you know what you can and cannot do and try to stick to the rules.
At the end of the tenancy, if your landlord alleges you have damaged something, check your inventory and the photos. If they are right, check what the cost is to replace or mend the item or consider fixing or replacing it yourself. This will normally be cheaper. If you check everything just before your tenancy ends and fix any problems then the landlord won’t be able to say anything has been damaged in the first place!
One of the most common complaints by landlords is that the property has not been properly cleaned at the end of the tenancy. Make sure you clean everything carefully including the oven and fridge! Consider hiring a steam cleaner or get professional cleaners in. This will often be cheaper than your landlord doing it.
If your landlord is not right and the damage pre-existed your tenancy then make this point. If your deposit was protected then provide this evidence to the Deposit Protection scheme. If your deposit wasn’t protected and your landlord won’t back down then contact us! We will look into it for free for you.