How to keep your rental deposit with 10 top tips

Worrying about keeping your rental deposit? Estate agent Martin & Co shares 10 tips to ensure you hold on to every penny

When researching your next new rental home, it’s easy to stumble upon horror stories of a landlord keeping a deposit. While these stories are occasionally true, certain safeguards such as the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme have been put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen.

The Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme has been set up to protect both landlords and tenants by holding deposits in an approved government scheme. However, there are caveats and certain conditions which can mean tenants are not guaranteed to receive their deposit back. For example, if for some reason a landlord feels that a property has fallen into disrepair and it was the fault of the tenant, the price of repairing the damage will be taken from their deposit (if this is detailed in a tenancy agreement).

With this in mind, here’s 10 tips to ensure you keep your rental deposit.

Tenancy Agreement
Always read your tenancy agreement – it lays out explicitly what is and isn’t expected of you. For example, some landlords allow pictures to be hung as long you fill in any nail holes and re-decorate at the end of your tenancy, some specify that they do not. Stick to the agreement. If hanging pictures is important to you, there are other things you can do to personalise your rental home, without risking your deposit.

Take your own automatically dated photographs and pay proper attention to the ones within an inventory. Always make notes of any existing damage so that you can’t be blamed for it. This will safeguard you for the future should a particularly disgruntled landlord try to find excuses for withholding your deposit.

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme
Ensure your deposit is held in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. There are three of these in England and Wales and different ones in Scotland and Northern Ireland where it should be held in a separate client monies account.

TDS has recently launched a Code of Recommended Practice. This Code of Practice sets out the recommended requirements which letting agents and landlords should meet as members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

These schemes give both the landlord and the tenant peace of mind that the deposit monies have been lodged in safe hands. Martin & Co uses the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS).

Bill Payment
Make sure your rent and bills, such as gas, electricity, telephone and broadband are all paid promptly. It’s your responsibility as a tenant to take care of these utilities, unless otherwise stated in your agreement. Failure to do so may cause problems and give your landlord grounds to terminate your tenancy – particularly if you fall into debt.

Report Repairs
Although allowances can be made for general wear and tear depending on the length of the tenancy agreement, it is a landlord’s decision on what is reasonable and what is excessive dilapidation, so it’s essential you report any required repairs as soon as possible and that you carry out those such as a blocked sink or toilet caused by you. This will also put you in ‘model tenant’ territory and maintain a good relationship with your landlord.

Basic Housekeeping
Keep the property clean and tidy. A build-up of grime isn’t easy to shift and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are leaving it in accordance with the inventory and schedule of condition. Carpets should be cleaned regularly, as well as a general deep clean every quarter to ensure your home remains manageable. You may find it useful to follow a cleaning checklist to provide top tips on how to keep your rental home in tip top condition.

Floor Protection
Protect wooden floors with castors on furniture legs and wheels. Rugs over open spaces not only help to reduce damage to floors but also add warmth and texture into your home. Floors can scratch easily, therefore prevention is far better than cure in this case.

If any gardening is required, this would normally be outlined in the agreement. Some landlords offer their own gardener and include the expense in the rent. Be sure to check what is required of you. If it gets out of hand, this can prove costly.

Vacating Premises
Make sure you leave the property empty or charges can be made to have your belongings removed. This includes an excess of rubbish, unwanted furniture and any other items that were not on the initial inventory. In some cases the landlord may be happy to take any unwanted furniture off your hands for future tenants. In this situation it’s always best to ask beforehand, rather than presuming.

If there’s a disagreement with a landlord about how much deposit should be returned, your Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme offers a free dispute resolution service, so contact the my deposits team as soon as possible. It could mean the difference between only receiving part of your deposit and or the full amount.

Final Thoughts

A lot of the tips above are general common sense. Treat the property with respect, courtesy and look after it while you live there. Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone damaged your home.

A little respect can go a long, long way and may just save your deposit as a result.

If you are looking for a rental property, contact your local Martin & Co office. We have thousands of rental properties to choose from – you can be sure to find the right home for you!

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