How to Get Your Tenancy Deposit Back

Getting your full rental deposit back at the end of a tenancy isn't always a certainty, but there are some simple steps that you can take to help avoid deductions. Starting from the day you move in, right up until the day you move out, our advice has you covered.

Moving In

When you rent a property, you should do your own inspection as soon as possible, taking note of any existing damage and reporting it to your letting agent or your landlord. Be sure to take dated pictures, the day you move in, of even the most insignificant damage and check the small print before you sign an inventory check-in.

Once you have paid your deposit, be sure to keep a note of which tenancy deposit scheme it is protected under and how your deposit is protected by that particular scheme. You can find out more about tenancy deposit schemes with our guide.

Cleaning

Cleaning

The number one cause of disputes over the return of deposits is down to cleaning and the condition of properties at the end of the rental period. For many people, cleaning is an after-thought, but leaving a property either untidy or dirty can result in heavy deposit deductions.

The easiest way to avoid losing out is to keep on top of your cleaning and maintain your accommodation throughout the year. Think about setting up a cleaning rota, or getting stuck into monthly deep cleans with your housemates.

If you do decide to leave it to the last minute, make sure to do a full and thorough clean before you leave, and don’t forget to tidy the garden if you have one. However, if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, you can always hire a professional cleaning service to help you out.

Read our guide on what to do at the end of your tenancy for more tips.

Damage

Accidents do happen, so if the property does become damaged, you should report it in writing to your agent and landlord as soon as possible - don't wait until the end of your agreement to flag it.

Remember, money can’t be deducted from your deposit for general wear and tear; this includes minor signs of use such as worn carpets, minor scrapes and scuffs on the walls and faded curtains. If your landlord tries to charge you for this, you should contact your tenancy deposit protection scheme who will put you in touch with their dispute resolution service.

Your landlord is required to hold your deposit in a registered tenancy deposit scheme and give you written confirmation of which scheme they are using within 30 days of receiving your deposit. This means that you and your money will be protected throughout your rental period. If you are unsure which scheme to contact, however, check your tenancy agreement paperwork as the deposit service your landlord is using should be detailed in there.

Decorating

Paint Brushes

You are probably going to want to add a bit of personality to your new home, but remember, if you want to redecorate the house or flat you’re renting, you should always get the landlord’s permission first.

If you have already made changes, for example, painted a wall or put up a shelf, make sure to return the property to its previous state when you leave.

When removing pictures or posters, take care not to remove layers of paint and plaster, or leave holes and stains on walls that your landlord will have to redecorate over.

For ideas on how to make your rented house feel like home, take a look at our landlord-friendly design tips.

Documents

It is important to keep hold of any documents, information and correspondence during your lease until your deposit is returned. Make sure you have a copy of the following:

  • Your tenancy agreement
  • Details of your tenancy deposit protection
  • A copy of the check-in inventory that has been signed by both you and your landlord
  • Check-in and check-out photos of any damage or wear and tear
  • Records of any correspondence between you and your agent or landlord. If you made phone calls to your agent or landlord, make notes of the date, time and what was discussed and follow up any phone calls with an email

Arrears

It is important to stay on top of your rent payments throughout the year, but if you’re struggling to make them, talk to your landlord or agent as soon as possible - don’t just ignore the problem.

Your landlord is entitled to deduct any unpaid rent from your deposit if you still owe money when you move out, so keep an eye on your monthly finances and remember to budget for your monthly rent costs.

If you think your landlord or letting agent has made unfair or unjustified deductions from your deposit, you can raise it with your tenancy deposit scheme, who will act as independent adjudicators to try to find an amicable resolution.

Tenancy Deposit Disputes

If you think your landlord or letting agent has made unfair or unjustified deductions from your tenancy deposit, you can raise it with your tenancy deposit scheme, who will act as independent adjudicators to try to find an amicable resolution.

Make sure you have as much evidence as possible that proves your case in the dispute. Examples of evidence to show you have returned the property in an acceptable state can be:

  • Receipts from professional cleaning companies
  • Photos or videos of the property
  • Bank statements that show rent being paid
  • Copy of the check-in/check-out inventory report
  • Copy of your tenancy agreement
  • Emails, text messages or letters between you and the landlord/letting agent
  • Dispute guides from your tenancy deposit scheme
  • Quotes/invoices from professional companies for any repairs

You can find out more about tenancy deposit disputes from the scheme your deposit is protected by and by reading our guide to tenancy deposit schemes.

Unprotected Deposit

If you believe that your landlord or letting agent hasn’t protected your tenancy deposit, then you can take them to a tribunal in order to get your deposit back and force them to correctly protect it, if the tenancy is continuing.

Your landlord may also not be able to evict you from the property if they haven’t correctly protected your deposit.

Find out more about what to do on the GOV website. If you have any other concerns about your landlord or letting agent then see if you can complain.

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