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7 tips to ensure you get your deposit back after renting

Holly Thomas / 07 September 2016

Here are our top tips for making sure your deposit is rightfully returned.

A piggy bank and a house next to each other to represent returning a deposit after renting

When it’s time to move out of your rented home, there’s the matter of reclaiming your deposit.

A landlord can make reasonable deductions from your deposit to cover certain losses.

But this often creates a tempting opportunity for rogue landlords to help themselves to your cash for new carpets or to get the bathroom redone.

Here are our top tips for making sure your deposit is rightfully returned.

Your deposit when renting

Get photographic evidence

If you haven’t moved in yet, take photographs of each room before your furniture goes in.

Even if you don’t have the ‘before’ shots, it’s still worth taking photographs when you leave the property once all your belongings are gone, so you have proof of how you left the place.

Check any damage against the original inventory. It’s important to refer back to the original descriptions of each room and the statement of its condition.

It should list existing cosmetic blemishes or defects, such as peeling wallpaper or flaking paint.

Check the tenancy agreement

Revert back to your tenancy agreement or ask the letting agent for a copy. 

Upon leaving the property, you might be expected to have the whole place professionally cleaned, carpets included. 

Or there might be a stipulation that any picture hooks must be removed, filled and repainted. 

While it’s a small job, a landlord might try and charge hundreds for someone else to do the job, which is the last thing you want when you could have easily, quickly and cheaply done it yourself - if only you'd known. 

If you have broken any kitchenware it’s worth replacing it. 

Don’t give the landlord an opportunity to bill you for anything.

Five things that make a good buy-to-let property

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

If you have stayed more than three years with little or no work done to the place, your landlord cannot expect the place to be in exactly the same condition as when newly let. 

So it will be down to some level of negotiation - and hopefully a reasonable landlord.

Remember your meters

Take meter readings on the day your tenancy expires so that you have a record of figures and the date they were taken. You can take a photo of meters for proof.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the deduction

Whenever deposit deductions are to be made, the landlord must let the tenant know in advance and back this up with independent written estimates.

 If you’re suspicious about an over-inflated quote, have one done yourself if you think even with the fee you will gain something.

Contact the landlord

Don’t be fobbed off by a letting agent if you sense that they’re not being fair. 

Contact the landlord direct if necessary. You are entitled to know your landlord's contact details and the letting agent has a legal duty to provide the name and address of your landlord within 21 days if you ask in writing.

How to become a landlord

Keep your cool

Try to remain polite and communicative during any negotiations over deductions. 

You can take action in the county court to recover a tenancy deposit or claim compensation. But going to court should be a last resort. 

You will have to fund the cost of any court action yourself and you could end up losing.

Do you have adequate home insurance?

If you're renting, make sure you put adequate content insurance in place - something Saga Home Insurance will be happy to help you organise.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.