Why landlords withhold deposits…

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Picture-of-tenancy-agreementWhen you return the keys for your rented property back to your landlord you want to ensure you get your deposit back in full. As long as you take good care of the property throughout your tenancy & pay your rent on time, this shouldn’t be a problem.

However, if you don’t return the property in the same state as when you moved in (minus ‘fair’ wear and tear), you may suffer deductions. In this post we thought it would be useful to look at why landlords withhold deposits and the steps you, as a tenant, can take to prevent your deposit being withheld.

A recent survey conducted by Homlet.co.uk, found that only 29% of landlords had previously withheld tenants deposits. Of those, 49% said that they’d done so because of the state of the garden, which was by far the most common answer.

A further 15% said that they’d withheld a tenant’s deposit because of damage to fixtures and furnishings, while only 13% said they’d withheld deposits because of the standard of cleanliness. Finally among the popular answers, 12% of landlords said that they’d withheld a tenant’s deposit because of rent arrears.

 1. The state of the garden

When you’re renting, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to the garden. Tenants are generally responsible for typical garden maintenance, including:

  • Emptying the bins
  • Cutting the grass
  • Weeding the garden (if the garden contained weeds when you moved in, this should’ve been listed on the inventory)
  • Cleaning the guttering

By keeping up with gardening tasks throughout your tenancy, you avoid the chance of problems developing. So, before the landlord or letting agent comes to inspect the property at the end of the tenancy, ensure that you mow the lawn, trim back the hedges and tidy up, disposing of all garden waste responsibly.

2. Damage to fixtures and furnishings

If you cause damage to fixtures & furnishings in the property it’s best to tell the landlord or letting agent immediately. This way, you can avoid any unwanted fees at the end of the tenancy.

Although it’s undoubtedly a difficult conversation, by explaining the exact nature of the damage to your landlord, a mutual agreement can be sought in advance of the tenancy’s end, potentially saving you money.

3. Cleanliness

During checkout, the property must have the same level of cleanliness as when you moved in. This should be noted on your inventory. Again, this is subject to ‘fair’ wear and tear. If you’re unsure what that constitutes in your property, you can ask your landlord in advance of checkout.

If you’ve slightly marked a carpet, then ensure that you steam clean it. Equally, ensure that all window glass is polished and lint free. All lights should be in full working order, and the oven should be spotless.

When cleaning, take a copy of the inventory around the property with you, so you remember how it originally looked. By manually checking everything on your inventory, you’ll ensure no stone’s left unturned. Alternatively, hire a professional end of tenancy cleaning company to take care of the cleaning for you. They will know the standards of cleaning required for letting agents!

4. Rent arrears

Finally, if you’re having trouble paying the rent during your tenancy, ensure that you tell your landlord or letting agent immediately. By keeping them informed and updated, you can maintain your relationship and ensure that the situation’s rectified.

Problems paying rent can result from a number of circumstances and it may be that it’s just a one-off. If you continue to struggle, then the Money Advice Service can help get you back on the right footing.

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