How to get your deposit back…

Moving home is an exciting time. It can mean new cities, new areas, and a more comfortable life. One of the hardest parts of moving out of rented accommodation is getting your deposit back. It should be straightforward, but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Whether you’re moving home in Leeds, Manchester or Scotland we all face the same issue, And with 20% of the UK’s population renting from private landlords alone, we could all do with a little help understanding how to get that deposit back.

Of course there are lots of things you can do to protect your deposit, but before we get onto those let’s look to the law.

Legal Requirements

It is a legal requirement for landlords to have their tenants deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme backed by the government. This requires you to be on an assured short-term tenancy, meaning you have a tenancy contract – ie the regular landlord-tenant contract. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t apply if you’re a lodger.

According to the law, your landlord must place your deposit in one of the three of the tenancy deposit schemes. Here are links to the three deposit protection schemes for you to check if your deposit is held with them. These are;

1) MyDeposits
2) Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
3) Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

Remember, you will need to provide your postcode, surname, the start of your tenancy date and date of birth. If it’s in there, that’s great news! If not, don’t worry you still have compelling options. Before we go into that though, it’s always best to settle things the informal way.

The Informal Way

Getting your deposit back the informal way isn’t just about being courteous, it will actually save both you and your landlord loads of time – and probably stress. If you’ve asked for your deposit back and your landlord is refusing/wants to make deductions you want to bear the following in mind:

1) Your landlord can charge you for cleaning, but those charges must be reasonable and they cannot charge you to clean the place to a standard higher than it was when you moved in.

2) Evidence is essential. When it comes to disputes, formal or informal the more evidence you have the easier it will be to make your case. This often appears in the form of photos/videos etc….

3) If it’s a small-time landlord you might want to approach them with more humanity; sit down and have an honest and open conversation. They have a higher chance of not following the law than an established company, so be prepared to explain the legal repercussions (covered below).

4) If it’s an agency or large company they will tend to be more process-driven in their approach. Your best bet of success is having transparent conversations, but more so managing on facts and legal process.
This is easier said than done, but it can be difficult to think about the situation from the other person’s perspective. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about how they might perceive the issue. If you think they might have a point, be open to compromise.

If you feel you’re 100% in the right and they’re just not budging. Here’s what you can do.

Your Legal Options

If your deposit is protected in a tenancy protection scheme (covered above) and there is a dispute between yourself and your landlord they will adjudicate the dispute. They try their best to be transparent, but ultimately they respond to evidence so the more photos and proof you can give the higher your likelihood of success.

So, what if my landlord hasn’t protected my deposit? If your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit you’re not out of luck. This is where the court steps in. Not only can you take your landlord to court, but they could also be ordered to pay up to three times your deposit in fines.

To find out where to take your landlord to court you can find appropriate tribunal or court here.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this has answered all of your questions on getting your house deposit back. It’s true that prevention always is the best cure; the more information and evidence you can get when you first move into your new rental the better. Moving home can be stressful not least because of issues like landlords withholding deposits.

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