After your tenancy has ended, you and your landlord must agree on how much you will get back from your deposit. Your landlord is obligated to return your deposit ten days after you both agree on an amount by law.
Additionally, landlords are also expected to protect their tenant’s deposits in any of the three government-protected schemes: mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme in England and Wales; and Letting Protection Service Scotland, mydeposits Scotland, and Safe Deposits Scotland. Northern Ireland protection scheme providers are Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland, Letting Protection Service NI, and mydeposits Northern Ireland.
These deposit protection schemes were first implemented in April 2007 in England and Wales. The law was created to help resolve deposit disputes as these protection providers can help moderate such scenarios by being impartial.
Prior to introducing the schemes, landlord-tenant disputes were common, especially when it came to issues related to tenancy deposits. Some of the biggest disputes involve landlords who refuse to return deposits back to their tenants.
Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Withholding Deposits
Even if returning deposits is mandated by law, there are still rogue landlords who prefer to do things their way. They often do not return deposits for reasons that only they know.
If Your Landlord Deducts From Your Deposit
Although your landlord is allowed by law to deduct from your deposit, this is only applicable if you did or are guilty of any of the following:
- You left the property with damages and missing items – your landlord can deduct your deposit for repair costs
- You damaged the property – the deposit can be used for the repairs
- Rent arrears or unpaid bills – your landlord can use your deposit to cover the fees
- Cleaning expenses at the end of the tenancy
It is important to note, though, that landlords are not allowed to deduct or withhold tenant deposits for reasonable wear and tear, as well as for damages they could have fixed but did not.
In some cases, landlords deduct from deposits without any legally valid reason. Some landlords also deduct a bigger amount than necessary just because they want to. These are the types of landlords you should be wary of.
Withholding Deposits: What To Do
If you are an assured shorthold tenant about to end your tenancy, you need to ensure your landlord returns your deposit within the period mandated by law. If they do not do so, these are the steps you should take:
- Protecting your deposit from rogue landlords starts when you move into the rented property. First, you have to document everything that is inside and outside the property. Take photos (and even videos) of all the furniture, fixtures, appliances, and other items that come with the property. These photos should show their condition as you started your tenancy and will serve as evidence later on if your landlord deducts from your deposit and claims that you left the rented home in poor condition.
- Prepare a check-in inventory at the start of your tenancy and have your landlord sign this to indicate that they agree that the property is in good condition.
- Do the same thing before leaving the property. Perform a check-out inventory and document everything. Your landlord should sign the inventory.
- It is your responsibility to ensure the property is in the same condition it was in when you started your tenancy, so doing a general cleanup can be a good idea.
- At the end of your tenancy, schedule a meeting with your landlord so you can come up with an agreement regarding the amount of deposit they will return to you. Ten days after you finalize such an agreement, your landlord should give back the deposit to you.
- If your landlord refuses to return the deposit – if they withhold your money for no legal reason – try to talk to your landlord to come up with a solution for the issue. This is the most civil and safest way to solve the problem. However, things do not turn out as expected most of the time.
- If your deposit is protected, get in touch with the protection scheme provider your money is registered into and avail of their internal dispute resolution service. If it turns out that your landlord did not protect your deposit and your tenancy has ended, you can file a tenancy protection compensation claim against them.
- If internal dispute resolution does not work and your landlord continues to withhold your deposit, it’s time for you to file a claim against them.
Pursuing Legal Action
Legal action against your landlord who refuses to return your tenancy deposit may sound intimidating, but it is an ideal option for many affected tenants. You only have to find a reliable and experienced team of solicitors with expertise in tenancy deposits. These solicitors are trained and committed to helping tenants as they get back what their landlord owes them.
If your landlord has not protected your deposit, you should choose the team of solicitors from Tenancy Deposit Claims, as they are not only well-experienced and trained, they are also authorized and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. Contact Tenancy Deposit Claims now and starts getting back your deposit!