Since June 2019, there are three deposit protection schemes in place to protect the tenant – MyDeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and Deposit Protection Service.
Each scheme is government-backed, and they were introduced so that landlords don’t use their tenants’ deposits as income as long as the tenant follows the rules of their tenancy agreement.
When the landlord or letting agent receives the tenant’s security deposit, he or she must put it in the scheme within thirty days by law.
When the tenant moves out, the landlord is obliged to give the tenant the full security deposit back within ten days. The landlord might deduct some money from the deposit, and if the tenant agrees on the amount, the process can begin.
However, if both parties fail to agree on the amount that should be returned, the tenant can take advantage of the tenancy deposit protection scheme that the landlord has put the deposit in to resolve the issue.
How can a tenant make a deposit compensation claim?
Sending a tenancy deposit compensation claim is a lot easier than it once was.
Nowadays, tenants are able to raise a deposit dispute on the web.
The first thing the tenant must do is find out if their deposit is protected by one of the three schemes mentioned above. If you have kept a copy of your tenancy deposit certificate, locate the certificate code on it.
The tenancy deposit scheme will hold your deposit and your claim until the issue has been resolved. Keep in mind that the tenancy deposit scheme can only accept a dispute 3 months after the end of the tenancy.
It is of vital importance that the tenant gathers plenty of relevant evidence when making a claim. Don’t waste your time handing over evidence that won’t be used.
Here are some of the examples of the information that is needed to make a claim:
- Rent records
- Receipts and invoices
- Written communication between the landlord and the tenant: Text messages, emails, letters, etc.
- Bank statements
- Inventory list
- Check-in and check-out reports
- Photographic evidence: Consider sending photographs of the condition of the rented property when the tenant moved in, and photographs of the property when the end of tenancy took place. Don’t expect photographs that are blurred to be used as evidence. Also, video evidence can help your case.
What are the current tenancy deposit rules?
Landlords in England or Wales that rent out private properties to tenants should follow the official governing rules. The rules are slightly different in other parts of the UK. In England and Wales, you are likely to come across assured shorthold tenancy (also known as AST).
After the tenant pays the security deposit, the landlord should send the tenant the following documentation:
- The amount of money the tenant has paid for the security deposit
- The address of the rental
- Details about the deposit protection scheme
- Information on how the tenant can get their deposit back
If you are dealing with a letting agency instead of a landlord, they should provide you with the same documents.
Should tenants hire a solicitor?
Although you don’t need a solicitor, a lot of tenants hire a legal team to help them through the process.
A lot of tenants worry about the fees a solicitor will charge for their services, but there are several ‘no win no fee’ law firms within the UK. If you don’t manage to get any compensation from your landlord you won’t be charged for their services.
If you are thinking about hiring a solicitor, make sure that you understand all of the charges before making an agreement.
If the dispute goes to court, the tenant will be charged a little over £300 for the court fee.
However, if you succeed with your case, you will be able to claim the court fee back from your landlord or the letting agent. Sometimes, tenants with a low income can get the court fee reduced.
When can your landlord legally deduct money from your deposit?
Some landlords are known to take money from their tenants’ deposits illegally. If the tenant doesn’t know their rights, landlords or letting agencies might look to take advantage.
Here are a few examples of when a landlord can deduct money from their tenants:
- Extensive damage: If the tenant has made holes in the walls to hang art, the landlord can pay for the repairs with the deposit. They can also deduct money if the carpet has been damaged badly, or the tenant has damaged any of the furniture or appliances that were in the property when the tenant moved in. Most landlords will have an inventory list of the items in the property.
- If the rent hasn’t been paid: If the tenant hasn’t paid all of the rent they owe on the rental, the landlord is entitled to deduct what is owed from the security deposit.
- Outstanding bills: Tenants are advised to make sure all of the bills are paid before the end of the tenancy. If there are any utility bills outstanding, the landlord can legally take what is owed from the deposit.
- The tenant leaves items behind: If the tenant leaves items behind when moving out of the property, like furniture or mattresses, the landlord might charge the tenant for disposing of these items.
However, don’t expect your landlord to take money from the deposit without notifying you first. They should explain to the tenant why they are making a deduction from the deposit before spending the money. Consider asking your landlord to provide you with the reasons for the reduction in writing.
What happens if the tenant thinks they are entitled to more of their deposit back?
Often, tenants are not happy with the amount of money the landlord or letting agent has taken from the deposit.
Tenants should be made aware of why the landlord is taking the money and they should ask their landlords how they came up with the amount that is being taken from their deposit.
For example, if the tenant has caused extensive damage to the carpet, and it needs replacing, the landlord should send you a quote from the carpet company.
How to avoid losing your security deposit
If you are moving into a new rental, there are a lot of things that you can do to make sure that your deposit is safe.
Landlords in the UK are known to hold onto their tenants’ deposits if they fail to leave the property in good condition. Tenants should clean the entire property before the end of the tenancy. Make sure that the toilets, kitchen, and bedrooms are in a good state. Most landlords and letting agencies will look for a new tenant to move in as soon as possible so they don’t lose out on rent, but if the property isn’t in good condition, then they might struggle to find new tenants.
Take several photographs and make a few videos when you first move in. Quality images and videos can be used as evidence if your landlord is reluctant to give you back your deposit.
Consider making a check-out inventory list. The list should include the condition of the bathroom tiles, the kitchen appliances, furniture, etc. Ask your landlord or the letting agency to sign the check-out inventory list, and give them a copy of it.
There are lots of professional cleaning companies in the UK that provide an end of tenancy cleaning service. Experienced cleaners will know what landlords are looking for when they come to inspect the property, so hiring a reputable cleaner might prove to be a worthwhile investment.