One of the final steps of moving somewhere new is handing over a deposit, which is both scary and exciting. Knowing exactly what happens to that money is important as it usually consists of a substantial amount, equating to one or two months rent. As long as you’re aware of what’s acceptable, it’s easy to avoid losing this money and get the total amount back at the end of your stay.
What can a landlord deduct from your deposit?
The landlord can take you to court if you owe more than the amount given as a deposit. Try not to fall back on any rent payments to ensure this doesn’t happen.
You’ll have to sign an inventory once you move in stating the condition of the place and the items inside. You’ll have to cover the cost if things are missing, so make sure the inventory is correct before signing it.
You should leave the home in the same condition it was when you first moved in, with the allowance of normal wear and tear. You should refer to the inventory that was created when you moved in and compare the notes on there to the current state of the property, room by room.
Examples of damage include:
- Marks left from blue tack or hanging photos on walls
- Burns in the carpets
- Makeup or nail varnish stains
- If you’ve painted walls without permission
Damage from pets
Surprisingly, you can’t be fined for having a pet on the property, even if your agreement states that you aren’t allowed one. However, you can have money taken off for damage caused by a pet, such as bite or scratch marks and cat flaps.
Some tenancy agreements state that you have to get the carpets and certain kitchen appliances cleaned professionally before moving out. You’ll have to prove this with receipts, so keep any invoices they send you and forward them to your landlord.
What can’t a landlord deduct from your deposit?
The landlord is expected to repair appliances and ensure they work properly so they can’t deduct money for this. The appliances have to provide an important function in the household and so this includes boilers, plumbing and heating as well as the general structure of the building.
Landlords will have to pay out of their own pocket for re-decorating if there is only normal wear and tear, as well as the cost of re-listing the property.
Wear and tear
Normal wear and tear are expected, especially if you’ve lived at the property for a number of years. They can’t deduct money from your deposit for this.
Examples of wear and tear include:
- Scrapes and marks on the wall, as long as they are minor
- Scuffed or faded carpets
- Faded paintwork
Breaches but no damage
If you throw a party but cause no damage, your landlord can’t deduct money from your deposit even if your agreement puts a ban on them. This counts for pets too – if there isn’t any damage like stubborn pet hair in the carpet, you can’t be fined.
How can I make sure my deposit is safe?
If you moved in on or after 6th April 2012, the deposit needs to be protected in the scheme by the time 30 days have passed since you paid. Your landlord should inform you when they have done this and they will have to return your deposit within 10 days of you leaving the property.