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.
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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.
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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.
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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.