11 Tips To Protect Your Rental Deposit

 

Tenant Tips

As the rental market in London continues to increase, so do the number of rental properties and landlords. While the overwhelming majority of landlords will be fair and kind and professional with their tenants with regard to their rental deposit, a small minority may be significantly less so.  

With this in mind, we have decided to give our top 10 tips to make sure you keep your rental deposit.  

1) Before you contact the landlord try and do some research on them, make sure that he is genuine and see if you can gather references on him. This will specifically apply to private landlords or small agencies.  

2) Before you move in, ensure that your landlord has officially registered the deposit you have paid. There are a few different ways of doing this – the first is on the bottom of your tenancy agreement, under the signatures. The second is through the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) or the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) which will look after the deposit as a neutral party before paying it to the relevant party at the end of the rental period. Either way, you will not leave a paper trail and so don’t need to worry about your landlord knowing you’re checking up on them!  

3) Take pictures/fill out the full inventory on arrival. This is essential. The principal way in which a landlord is going to claim the right to your deposit, is if the contents of the house are in some way different from when to moved in to when you have left. Fill out the inventory (Mind the Flat can offer inventory services) and take pictures, especially if there appears to be original wear and tear in the property. Make sure you save the photos carefully.  

4) Keep the place tidy/clean/be careful – many landlords will do on the spot checks of properties. Try and consistently keep the property in a good condition. Don’t give any reason for the landlord to suspect that you are anything less than the perfect tenants. A good idea may be to avoid loud or messy parties in the property.

5) Have a walkthrough 3 weeks to a month before you leave to see what the landlord says about the place. Ask him about the deposit and what he would be intending to charge against the deposit. If items need to be replaced, insist on sourcing the items yourself (nearly always cheaper). Fix any issues before you move out of the property.

6) Clean thoroughly on leaving. While cleaning may well not be included in the deposit (usually only for damage) the landlord may still try to charge you for it. If he can show photographic evidence of a dirty house, his claim may hold up in court. So don’t take the risk – ensure the property is thoroughly scrubbed from top to bottom before you move out.

7) Take more photos – once this has been done, take more photos! If possible, see if you can time/date stamp the images (a function available on most cameras). If the landlord is not forthcoming with your deposit, you will need all the evidence you can gather about his false claims.

8) Talk to your landlord on the day of departure about the return of your deposit. Don’t be shy about it. If he is happy with the state of the property then he should pay you back on the spot. If he is unhappy then you will be able to start the process of reclaiming your deposit as soon as possible.

9) Don’t query if there isn’t a problem. If your landlord finds some damage you were hoping that he wouldn’t find and charges you for it, don’t raise a big fuss. The process will take up large amounts of your time and, at worst, you could end up paying through the nose.

10) If there is an issue, write to them. If you believe you have a valid query then let them know as soon as possible about it. Write to them and explain that you have evidence to suggest that the terms of the deposit agreement were not violated and give them a timeframe (1-3 weeks) for them to return the deposit to you in full. Note that if they fail to return your deposit then you may both have to end up in small claims court. 1

11) Take them to court. Very often, the very mention of the stuffy and unforgiving small claims courts will encourage the landlord to settle (return the full deposit). If it doesn’t, there are two main options. You could go to small claims court and represent yourself. However, you would have to handle court fees yourself. The second option is to try and find a law company who will handle deposit returns. If your case is taken then there should be no up front fee as all costs should come out of your eventual payment.

It can be seen that if you are clean and tidy and respectful of the property you rent, you will very rarely encounter any issues. However, if you do, there are many different processes in place to help you obtain a fair outcome.

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