Buy to Let

Don’t lose your tenancy deposit because of these four common mistakes

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

The majority of tenants get their deposit back at the end of a tenancy, but many don’t, and in plenty of cases this financial loss is entirely avoidable.

Now ARLA Propertymark, the trade body for letting agents, has published the top reasons that renters don’t end up getting their deposits back, accroding to its members. By making sure they avoid these common mistakes, tenants can ensure they get their deposit paid back to them at the end of their tenancy.

Keep it clean
Almost nine in 10 letting agents (88%) said the main reason tenants don’t get their deposits back is because they leave the property dirty or messy. In most instances, properties are professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, so while you can clean it yourself when you vacate the property, and aren’t required to use a cleaning company, landlords expect the same level of cleanliness as documented in the inventory at the start of the agreement. To avoid any disputes, you should take photos at the start and end of the tenancy to use as evidence.
Lack of maintenance
Tenants are expected to maintain the property they’re renting; which includes keeping gardens in the same state they were in when you moved in. However, 44% of letting agents claim that lack of maintenance is another major reason why deposits are often held back.
Direct damage to the property and its contents
When you’re renting a property, it’s tempting to stick your own photos on the wall, or hang your own pictures, but direct damage like this is another top reason why tenants don’t get their full deposits back (39%). Plain walls can be boring, but using white tac can avoid greasy marks, or even just asking your landlord if you can hang a few pictures in sensible places will likely avoid deposit deductions.
Unpaid rent
Deposits cannot be returned until all rent arrears are paid but the fourth most common reason why they aren’t returned is unpaid rent (31%). By setting up a standing order at the start of a tenancy, you can ensure your rent is always on time, which will save you from issues when you leave the property.

Sally Lawson, president of ARLA Propertymark, said: “When you’re leaving a property you’ve been renting, the general rule is to leave it as you found it. Make sure you haven’t left any personal belongings behind, and that the property is clean and tidy for the next tenants. You should flag any damaged items to your letting agent or landlord during the agreement, so that when you leave, it doesn’t come as a shock.

“This will also help you develop a good relationship with them, which will be useful for any reasonable negotiations about the deposit. Finally, you should always take photos of the property at the start and at the end of your contract, so that if you need to dispute any of the deposit deductions, you can evidence your points.”