Paying your rental security deposit is a huge part of renting. Even though more than half of people renting in the UK get their full deposit back, that still leaves 50% of people that don’t.
In this article, we explain the common reasons why landlords keep your security deposit and share our top tips on how to get your rent deposit back.
Why Do Landlords Keep Your Deposit?
Your rental deposit is designed to give your landlord security. If you do something to their property that costs them money to fix, they can keep hold of your tenancy deposit to pay for the damages or disruption it caused.
Generally, landlords keep some of your deposit for reasons like:
- Breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement – which can include decorating the property without permission or leaving it in an untidy state
- Damaging the property or its furnishings
- Not paying your rent or bills
When you first pay your deposit, your landlord should write to you within a month to explain why they may keep or deduct an amount from your deposit. This should give you the specifics about what you have to do to get your rent deposit back in the future.
If you’ve been living in your place for a long time, the property may have some general wear and tear. Guidance is very clear for landlords that they shouldn’t hold onto your deposit because of general wear and tear.
Remember, if you disagree with your landlord about them keeping some or all of your deposit, you can dispute the deductions.
Your landlord has to provide evidence as to why they should keep the money. But if you have evidence to the contrary, you can use your Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme’s free dispute resolution service.
Top Tips on How to Get Your Rent Deposit Back
No one likes losing money. Especially when you’re expecting the full deposit to be returned. We’ve pulled together our best tips about how to get your rent deposit back for when you’re moving into or out of a new rental property.
3 Things to Do Before You Move in
Do Your Own Inventory
Before you move in, your landlord should do an inventory. A good inventory contains a stock list of everything in the property and its condition – and summarises it in a professional report with images. As the tenant, you need to sign that the inventory is accurate.
When your landlord gives you the inventory, don’t just sign it and hand it back to them. Do your own inventory to fact-check everything they’ve said about what’s in the property and what condition it’s in before signing. If you’re not happy with something in the report, you need to say it before moving in.
For good measure, we suggest that you take your own pictures or videos, too. Before you move out, you can review how the property previously looked and try to restore it as best you can. This is especially important if you plan on decorating (with permission) or carrying out rent-friendly renovations. Your own media can also support or serve as evidence if a deduction has been made that you disagree with.
Arrange Regular Payments
No one plans on missing rent or paying late. But it’s easy to do if you don’t have the proper processes set up. Rent arrears can cause huge disruption for landlords, particularly if they are paying a mortgage.
Even if you pay the money back later, you could still lose some of your deposit – especially if they incurred additional expenses from the loss.
Before you move in, arrange your finances to ensure you always pay on time. Set up a regular standing order via your bank account to transfer money to your landlord or letting agent on the same day every month. That way, you’ll never forget to pay.
If you’re struggling to pay rent one month, let your landlord know as soon as possible. The more they can plan ahead, the less inconvenience it can cause them – increasing your chances of getting your deposit back.
Ask About Decorating
Many landlords don’t like it when tenants decorate, but they do like people that stay long-term. If you have a long-term lease and want to make a rental feel like home, ask your landlord whether you can decorate and, if so, what limits they have.
Painting a room without permission can lose you your deposit. Even rent-friendly decorations like sticky tiles can cause damage, leading to a charge.
Before you move in, ask your landlord what they are okay with and get the details confirmed in your tenancy agreement. That way, if you decorate, you’ll know you can still get your deposit back later.
3 Things to Do Before Moving Out
A surprisingly high number of landlords need to pay for a deep clean of a property when a tenant moves out. If you don’t thoroughly clean the place before you leave, this could be a breach of your tenancy agreement – as well as an unnecessary expense for your landlord.
Before moving out, give the whole place a thorough clean – from the kitchen fridge to the bathroom tiles. Going the extra mile to do things like taking the bins out can’t hurt either.
Make sure you clean everything it says you need to in your tenancy agreement, too.
We’ve partnered with Uazen, an Oxfordshire-based cleaning company, to produce some spotless cleaning content for renters. Stay tuned for their guides!
Broken door handles and dents in the wall happen. Some landlords won’t charge for small repairs like this, but some will – especially if a lot of them need fixing. If you want to keep your deposit when you move out, consider fixing any problems you’ve caused.
Check the pictures in your inventory to see what the property used to look like before and what may need restoring. If you know you can fix them inexpensively, sometimes it’s better to do it yourself rather than leave it to your landlord.
Your landlord won’t be worried about saving you money and may go with a more costly remedy than you.
Things happen, and sometimes damage is done. Everyone, including your landlord, should understand this. Instead of trying to hide damages you’ve caused in an attempt to get away with it, it’s better to just be honest with your landlord.
Keeping your deposit is at their discretion. If you show integrity and fess up to damages, it’ll save them time investigating, and they may even waive the charges because of it.
Remember, if you’re moving to a new rental, your new landlord may want a reference from your old landlord. Ending things on good terms can help you get a good recommendation in the future and prevent you from missing out on your dream home because you lied about damages in the past.
Waiting on your deposit to be returned?
Over 60% of UK renters pay a new deposit before getting their old one back. This can leave renters £2,500 out of pocket. That ain’t right.
Don’t live through the double deposit problem. With a Fronted lifetime deposit, your new landlord gets the money when they want it, and your old landlord holds onto the money until you move out. You sit there feeling smug.