Tenants pay their landlords a rental deposit when they are about to start their rental. It is delivered to the landlord a few days before the lease begins or the day the lease is signed. This payment is intended to protect the property and the landlord, and to ensure that the tenant fulfills his obligations as set out in the agreement.
Additionally, landlords can use the deposit to cover repair costs if their tenants damaged parts of the property or there are rent arrears. The amount can be a partial deduction or the full amount; it all depends on the damages or the arrears. However, if there are no problems, tenants can get their deposit back in full at the end of their tenancy.
Lease deposits typically equal five weeks of rent.
Responsibilities of the owners
In addition to returning the deposit 10 days after the end of the lease, landlords are also obliged to protect their tenants’ money. Within 30 days after deposit is delivered, owners are expected to register money with one of three government-approved deposit protection schemes: mydeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and Deposit Protection Service.
However, deposit protection is only intended for private sector tenants rented with secured short-term leases. In some cases, the landlord can retain the deposit and does not have to protect it by either scheme.
Some insured short-term private tenant owners do not protect deposits in the same way that some of them do not return deposits.
What you must do to get your deposit back
At the beginning of your tenancy
The guarantee of getting your deposit back begins when you are about to sign our lease and begin your lease. It should be your responsibility to understand what your responsibilities are and what your landlord’s obligations are.
You and your landlord should discuss the important aspects of your lease, starting with the rental deposit. Ask all the questions that come to mind, as this will help you understand what will happen. Why are you paying? Where will your deposit go? In what scheme will it be protected? Will you get it back?
Before proceeding with your tenancy, your landlord must show you proof that they have accepted your deposit. Making sure of this will avoid confusion, misunderstandings or disputes between landlords and tenants down the road. With this proof, your landlord will not be able to deny receipt of your deposit.
When you move in
The first thing to do when you move out is to take a verification inventory of everything on the property, including the condition of the items when your lease began. One of the terms of the contract between the landlord and the tenant is that you make sure that the property, its furniture, accessories and other items are kept in good condition throughout the lease.
Document your record so that you have evidence (i.e. photos and videos among other things) in case the landlord withholds your deposit for damages and other similar issues.
At the end of your tenancy
If your lease is about to end or has just ended, but the landlord hasn’t answered your questions about your deposit, here are some things you can do:
Before leaving the property, take photos and videos of the property, including all furniture and fixtures (including walls and carpets), so you have proof of its condition when you left. Be sure to have the cash register signed by your landlord.
The next step is to determine if your deposit is protected by any of the government-approved protection schemes. You can ask your landlord or leasing agent directly or you can contact any of the providers in the scheme. Each provider has their own set of requirements and procedures, so you’ll want to coordinate with them the steps to get your deposit back.
If your landlord follows the leasing law, they must return your deposit within 10 days after the two of you have agreed on an amount for reimbursement. If they are holding some or all of your money, there must be a reason for them to do so, as mentioned above. Your deposit protection plan provider can help you solve the problem.
It is also helpful to know what reasons your landlord can use to deduct from your deposit: rent arrears, damages, cleaning, landscaping, unpaid rent, and redecoration. If normal wear and tear is your concern, don’t be; you cannot be charged.
If your landlord deducts money from your deposit for no good reason, you have the right to dispute it using the evidence you have. If they haven’t protected your deposit, you can also file a Lease Deposit Protection Compensation claim.
How do I submit a claim?
Taking your landlord to court for withholding your deposit can be challenging and time consuming, but it will be easier if you work with a team of knowledgeable attorneys. Choosing experienced lease deposit attorneys is the best way to go, particularly those who are regulated and licensed by the Lawyers Regulatory Authority.
You’ll want to consult with the Tenancy Deposit Claims team of experts. They have been in the rental deposit industry for years and have helped thousands of tenants just like you get their hard-earned deposit money back from their landlords.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism