Can a landlord keep my deposit?

A. Unless there are deductions to be considered, you should be able to get your full deposit back from the landlord at the end of the tenancy. The reason why you may not get the full amount could be due to unpaid rent, damage to the property, missing inventory items, cleaning of the property and unpaid utility bills.

Whereas deductions in lieu of rent arrears are pretty straightforward, property damage may be a hotly contended issue. Many landlords think that broken items must be all costed at full value, whereas the law takes depreciation into account and does not allow any profit to be made from the replacement. On the other hand, some tenants are surprised to learn that unauthorised decorating or repainting of a room is classified as damage and that landlords are well within their rights to use the deposit to rectify it before the next tenant moves in.

Paying for missing inventory items only becomes contentious when the inventory is poorly done or is rushed. It helps both parties if a professional service is used and most reputable letting agents offer this. It is free for tenants and gives peace of mind all round.

Cleaning is another grey area as levels of cleanliness can be subjective, but common-sense dictates that you should leave a property in the same state as how you found it. Landlords in the private rental sector generally use a professional cleaning service prior to a tenancy regardless of the property’s condition, and so it is expected that you provide the same standard of cleaning before you leave the property, but this can be challenged by a tenant as it is not supported legally.

Your deposit should be lodged by your letting agent or landlord with a Tenants Deposit Scheme and most tenancy agreements are covered by these services which act as impartial and secure custodians of the funds.

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About the Author

A board director since 2001, Marc oversees the company’s London rentals operation as well as marketing and developing strategies for new business. He has been instrumental in the company’s expansion, working closely with managing director Anita Mehra to develop its core services and frequently co-hosts property seminars for investors in many international locations. Read more about Marc von Grundherr here - Read full profile

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