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Deposit disputes: Protecting your money when moving out of a rented property

When deposit disputes go to adjudication, it has been found that tenants have been awarded 50 per cent more money back than their landlords.

One in 30 tenancies result in an adjudicator stepping in, with the most common cause being disagreements over damages and cleaning.

Landlords in England have been limited to requesting five weeks’ deposit upfront for any new or renewed tenancies, or six weeks if the annual rent is £50,000 or more, since June 2019.

However, since the start of 2018, there have been 66,768 tenancy deposits resulting in some sort of dispute. Landlords have been awarded £10,680,453 during these disputes, whilst tenants have received a greater amount of £16,058,532.

Here are a few top tips on how to get your deposit back successfully (useful for landlords too!):

Inspect your new home at the start of the tenancy

It is always a good idea to inspect your new rental property when moving in to indicate any signs of damage caused by previous tenants.

If you spot any, take photographs of these – include even tiny details, such as cracks or marks on the walls. This way, it is easier to make clear to a landlord that the damage was pre-existing.

Make sure your deposit is in a tenancy deposit scheme

It is important to check that your deposit is held in a tenancy deposit scheme to ensure that there will be a free resolution service to deal with any future disputes.

If the deposit has not been registered, the landlord may be liable for a heavy fine and possibly be unable to evict tenants from the property.

You should receive information from a landlord within 30 days’ of paying the deposit.

Wear and tear or lack of care?

Wear and tear damage should be expected by landlords, to a certain degree, due to the rental properties being used over a long period of time.

When considering what is fair wear and tear or a lack of tenant care, landlords will have to take into consideration the age of the items, the condition when arriving at the property as well as how long the tenants were in the property.

The importance of check-in and check-out

To avoid any confusion on what is wear and tear, check-in and check-outs are vital.

If landlords wish to deduct from the deposit, renters should compare the condition of the property at check-in to the condition at check-out. For example, if the carpets were brand new at check-in and now have permanents stains, despite the tenant only staying for a few months, the landlord may be liable to charge for replacement carpets.

Consider going to adjudication

A professional adjudicator can resolve a deposit dispute for you.

Adjudicators can assess the landlord’s claim against the tenant’s representations and decide on what to deduct – if anything.

At Mander Hadley we specialise in advising on disputes between landlords and tenants and recovering possession. For help and advice on related matters, please contact us.

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