Common Reasons Tenants Don’t Get Their Deposit Back


Private rental tenants in the UK are obligated by law to pay their landlords tenancy deposits equivalent to five weeks’ worth of their rent. The money serves as a guarantee for landlords that their tenants will stay true to the terms of the tenancy agreement. It is also something landlords can use in case their tenants leave the property in a dilapidated state.

However, after receiving the deposit, landlords are required by law to protect their tenant’s money by registering it with any of the three government-authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes: mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Protecting tenancy deposits are a guarantee that the tenant’s money is safe and protected throughout their occupancy. When the tenant’s contract ends, the landlord is expected to return the money to them within a period of 10 days. The deposit is usually refunded in whole, except when the renter has left the property in poor condition. In cases like this, the landlord is allowed to use a portion (or all) of the deposit money to cover for the repair cost.

Over the years, however, more and more tenants have been reporting and filing claims against their landlords for not returning their deposits. Sometimes, landlords do so for no (legally valid) reason while, in other circumstances, , there are reasons but they are quite unexpected. There are also cases where landlords believe their reasons are valid, as most are indicated in the tenancy agreement.

Irrational reasons

It may be hard to believe but there are irrational reasons why some tenants refuse to give back their tenants’ deposit money. Here are some examples of them:

1. A certain landlord deducted a particular amount from their tenant’s deposit for an unexpected reason: the renter did not leave enough toilet rolls in the property. While the rolls are essential items for any home, UK laws do not have any rules against or penalties for tenants who do not leave enough household essentials in the rented home at the end of their tenancy.

2. Some landlords do not return their tenants’ deposit in full because of made up services that they said the renters had used . One example is a tenant who received an invoice for garden landscaping even though the property they rented had no garden and was in one of the upper floors of a building. There was a small balcony, but it wasn’t fit for a landscaped garden.

The charge was eventually dropped, but the landlord never offered an apology or explanation for what happened.

3. One of the most ridiculous reasons to have ever been reported is a letting agency charging an elderly renter whose tenancy just ended. The charge was for the flowers, sweets, and thank you note that the tenant left for the agency. Luckily, the agency soon realised their mistake and the charge was dropped.

Common, valid reasons

The most common reasons, mostly valid ones, are the following:

1. The tenant leaves the property not properly cleaned.

Most landlords hand-over their properties to tenants clean and organised. Sometimes, they even hire professional cleaners to ensure every area and corner of the home is efficiently cleaned. Once the tenant starts living in the property, keeping the place clean and habitable becomes their responsibility.

2. The tenant leaves the property with damaged furniture, fixtures, and walls.

The tenancy agreement specifically states that rented properties must be returned to landlords in the condition that they were in when the tenant commenced their tenancy. So, if the furniture and fixtures, the walls, appliances, and other items in the home were in good shape and condition, tenants should leave them in the same manner.

Repairs for broken furniture and fixtures and holes in walls can cost over £300. Landlords can deduct this amount from the tenant’s deposit.

3. The tenant leaves the property in poor condition.

If the tenant did not keep the property well-maintained, they may not get back their deposit at the end of their tenancy. Ensuring the property is in good condition involves tasks as simple as regularly checking the drains, plumbing, and gutter (among others). It is also about cleaning the backyard and mowing the lawn at least once a week.

4. The tenant leaves the property with some items missing or misplaced.

The minute the tenancy starts, the rented home and everything in it becomes the responsibility of the tenant. Thus, when an item or object (such as furniture or appliance, and even small items like a vase) goes missing or disappears, the occupant is held responsible. If the missing items are not returned before the end of the tenancy, the tenant can end up losing a significant portion of their deposit.

Other common reasons include rent non-payment/rent arrears, unpaid utility bills, modifying the property, and property abandonment.

Deposit disputes

If you are involved in a deposit dispute with your tenant, get in touch with a team of expert solicitors who are experienced in tenancy deposit protection claims. Find one that is authorised and regulated with The Solicitors Regulation Authority so you’re guaranteed first rate service and high chances of a successful tenancy protection compensation claim. Get in touch with the experts at Tenancy Deposit Claims now. They can help you if your deposit has not been safely protected in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

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