Rules on Tenant Deposits

It is now almost standard that when a tenant moves into a new property, they have to pay the landlord a security deposit which is normally the equivalent of a month’s or one and a  half month’s rent.

In 2007, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme was set up by the government for landlords to pay deposits into.  The benefits of the scheme for tenants are that if living in a Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (this can be checked with the landlord) all of the deposit can be retrieved in full or at least their entitlement.  It also makes any disputes at the end of the tenancy easier to resolve.

The landlord however can take money out of the deposit at the end of the tenancy for any of the following:

Cleaning deductions

If the tenancy agreement states that items such as the carpets and curtains must be cleaned before the tenant moves out and this is not done, a deduction for cleaning the property may be made. However, as a tenant, you are only responsible for cleaning anything that had been soiled or dirtied beyond normal wear and tear.

Damaged property

If the property or its contents are damaged, then the tenant is responsible for repairing or replacing the item.  However, this does not have to be with brand new items, for example, if you have broken an old washing machine you only have to pay the cost to get a similar second hand washing machine.  Items which break as a result of normal wear and tear, you are not expected to replace.

Outstanding and unpaid rent

If a tenant leaves a rented property owing rent to the landlord, then they are allowed to take this from the deposit.  If the rent owed is not covered by the deposit, the landlord can begin court proceedings to reclaim the owed monies.

Missing items

If the landlord has reason to believe that an item has gone missing in the house or flat, they can use the deposit to replace it.  However, the cost should only be for a similar like for like item.

Once any repairs have been carried out, items replaced, etc. the landlord must return the remaining deposit and as a tenant you are entitled to see receipts for the work that is carried out.

To avoid any conflicts or disputes, it is advised that when moving into the house, the tenant and landlord walk around the premises and complete a detailed itinerary of what is present and the condition of the items.  On completion, both the landlord and tenant should sign the list and be given a copy each of it.  In today’s world of technology, you could take a time stamped photograph of any existing damage to use as proof if there are any disputes when the tenancy comes to an end.

 

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