One in five private tenants expects to lose all of their deposit money when moving out of a rental property, according to a new study.
Of 1,000 tenants surveyed by law firm Slater and Gordon, 20% believe they will lose the whole deposit amount that they handed over at the start of their tenancy.
Additionally, almost three-quarters (72%) of tenants said they have had to struggle to get the deposit that they felt they were owed back.
Four in ten tenants stated that they had received none of their deposit back when leaving a property. The average UK deposit is £549.
However, the study, which also surveyed 500 private landlords, also found that many landlords said tenants caused more damage to their property than the deposit could cover.
A huge 79% of landlords said they wished they had required higher deposits from their tenants, as the deposit given did not cover damage to their properties.
The most common reasons landlords and letting agents did not give back some or all of the deposit were: stains on the carpet; chipped paint; damaged wallpaper, broken or damaged furniture; and broken or damaged windows.
Shockingly, 18% of tenants admitted to not reading their tenancy agreement properly before signing it.
A property lawyer at Slater and Gordon, Samantha Blackburn, insists it is “crucial” that all tenants read their contracts thoroughly before signing it, to avoid any surprises or disputes at the end of the tenancy.
For tips on what to include in a tenancy agreement, check this guide: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/tips-for-tenancy-agreements/
She continues: “It is also important that landlords are in contact with their tenants and are monitoring the use or damage to the property throughout the tenancy.
“Security deposit disputes between landlord and tenant are a common problem and something we are seeing our clients experience more and more.”
She adds: “If tenants are respectful of the property and leave it in the same condition as when they moved in, they can reasonably expect to get their full deposit back.”
Blackburn advises tenants to take photographs of the property when they move in, keep a detailed inventory, and inform their landlord and make a note when any damage is caused.
She says: “Landlords should do the same and make sure what they are charging their tenants is an accurate security deposit to reflect any damage that might occur during the tenancy.”1
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government notes: “Nearly ten million deposits have been protected since the launch of tenancy deposit schemes and measures in the Housing and Planning Bill further crack down on rogue landlords and strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor quality privately rented homes in their area.”
He adds that it is important to remember that “the vast majority of landlords and letting agents provide a good quality service”1.
Remember that you must protect your tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving the sum. You must also provide the tenant with certain details relating to how their deposit money is protected.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s Ben Beadle has offered some vital information for landlords on the importance of deposit protection: https://landlordnews.co.uk/tds-explains-importance-of-tenancy-deposit-protection/
Also be aware that from April, two new custodial deposit protection schemes will launch.