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How to get your full deposit back

by gbaf mag
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Statistics show that by 2045 55% of the UK population will be renting, tipping the scales from traditional ownership to renting as a long term choice. With that in mind, it is more important than ever before for renters to know their rights and ensure they can take the correct steps to get their full deposit back once their tenancy has come to an end.

This information, compiled by runrug®, from an in-depth interview with Paul Richardson, Director of Deposit Recovery Claims at The Tenants Voice, offers practical advice on how to get your full deposit back when you leave your tenancy.

The aim here is to help tenants push back on unfair claims. It covers everything from legal rights to a 10-step checklist on how to get your full deposit back. You can find the on-site version here.

Over the past year with recent lockdowns across the country, the government has urged landlords who wish to sell their properties to stave off evictions, or the serving of Section 21 notices. There is growing evidence that this guidance is not being adhered to.

In a recent VICE article, tenant Leo was given three months to leave his property during the height of the crisis in the first lockdown, with his landlord citing a need to sell the home for their own funds. He says he was expected to show “solidarity” for his landlord’s plight, despite losing his own income – and now home.

Here are some widely unknown facts that can help renters push back against unfair claims, and protect themselves for the remainder of the emotional rollercoaster that has been 2020, and beyond.

Four out of ten tenancy deposits are not correctly dealt with according to Paul Richardson from The Tenant’s Voice. That means nearly half of all tenancy deposits are not handled as they should be by letting agents or landlords.

A landlord or agent must protect the deposit within 30 days of payment and give the tenant all the “prescribed information” about their deposit. If it is not protected or the information is not provided then a penalty of up to 3 times the deposit amount is payable.

Does your landlord have a licence?

Did the landlord need a licence to rent the property? If one was required and there wasn’t one in place then a Rent Repayment Order can be pursued to claim up to 12 months rent back.

As a tenant, you have the right to request your landlord’s details such as name and address. You can also use the Land Registry site to check the ownership of the property you live in, and tools like RentProfile can help you see who owns your home. If the name doesn’t match your tenancy agreement, who you’ve been communicating with, or, the person you’ve paid rent to, there might be something amiss.

If, at the end of your tenancy, a landlord is trying to charge for things you think are unfair and you are struggling to find a resolution a lack of licence can be useful leverage.

How to get your deposit back

With spiralling house costs pricing anyone without the bank of mum and dad out of the market, it’s no surprise that research from PwC shows 59% of 20 to 39 year-olds in England will be privately renting by 2025.

While there are upsides to the rental sector, allowing for the younger generation to pursue new jobs and live in cities around the world, renting can leave people in tricky financial situations. Particularly, when part or all of a deposit is kept by a landlord on move out day.

What can you do if your deposit money is being held for unfair reasons?

Most renters will have had a situation where a landlord wants to make deductions from their deposit, but what actually warrants a reasonable reduction – and what can you do if money is being held for reasons you disagree with or seem unfair?

Many renters hire professional cleaners to move out, but unless your contract specifies you need to do this, it is not something you can be penalised for. Similarly, standard wear and tear is expected while renting and unless damage goes beyond things like marks on walls, or a chip on a surface, your landlord should not withhold the deposit.

Under the terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 2004, the landlord has to maintain the property’s structural elements and utility systems such as the gas and water supply. Unless your actions have caused damage or malfunction, your landlord is liable for the upkeep of the repair of appliances that make use of utility systems and provide key functionality of the property i.e.

  • Basins
  • Sinks
  • Baths and sanitary conveniences
  • Central heating
  • Boilers
  • Other essential electrical appliances

The maintenance and repair of the structure and exterior of the building:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Roofs
  • Foundations
  • Gutters
  • Drains and external pipes

Source: The Tenants Voice

TOP TEN TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR DEPOSIT BACK – A CHECKLIST

  • Touch up the paint wherever possible, and fill in any holes you’ve made when hanging pictures.
  • Replace any missing light bulbs.
  • If you’ve lost any spare house/garage/shed or postbox keys get them recut before moving out – agencies charge a fortune for replacement keys!
  • If your tenancy came with any items in the house like plates or cutlery ensure anything broken is replaced. Your move out itinerary should match the move in one.
  • Leave your flat in a “domestically clean” condition. Focus on things like the oven, inside the washing machine and microwave, and any mould or mildew in the bathroom.
  • Take out the rubbish!
  • If your property came with a fridge/ freezer make sure they are both cleaned thoroughly.
  • Remove any lingering smells from soft furnishings. Bicarbonate of soda is a great natural scent eliminator – sprinkle liberally on carpets and hoover after a few hours, or better still leave it overnight.
  • If you have housemates and a joint tenancy agreement you are all liable for the overall condition of a property – ensure all communal areas are in good shape before moving out.
  • Remove your wireless router and send it back to the company – easy to forget, but you will get charged for it!
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