How to use the security deposit

Sometimes it’s hard to know how you can appropriately use your security deposit and landlords are often reluctant to take damages when, in fact, they are owed themselves. The introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme in 2007 made things considerably more secure for tenants who wanted to challenge the use of their deposits and, for fear of being challenged, landlords weren’t always using the money appropriately. So, what can you take and what must you leave alone?

One-for-One Damages

The easiest case to deal with is when tenants break something that needs replacing. In this situation, the only remedy is to take the value of the item when new, or the cost of repairing it, from the deposit. If this occurs over several items, price them up individually and charge a sum. It’s worth doing your research on this, tenants will probably find round amounts (say, £300) a little suspicious.

Wear and Tear

One area where things get a little more complicated is when wear and tear is concerned. In theory, ‘normal’ wear and tear is the landlord’s responsibility and excessive damages are that of the tenant. This is usually a very fine line and it’s possible to argue a case from both sides. Always refer to your inventory in these cases: it will be a valuable tool of support and if you encounter problems you should talk to your landlord insurance provider.


Spending the Money

Contrary to intuition, the landlord doesn’t actually have to spend the money taken for repairs on repairs. So long as the deductions match the decrease in value of the property (because it’s damaged) then a landlord is entitled to take reasonable sums. It is, of course, much harder to prove this is reasonable, so if you’re planning on doing repairs at any point, it’s usually best to get them over and done with and to prove to your tenants what you’ve spent.

There is a lot of advice available when it comes to spending security deposits, but the general rule is if it’s damaged, you can charge for it. Always be reasonable when assessing costs, but make sure your property doesn’t suffer for fear of a challenge: you could well be in the right.

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