Ways to Make a Rental Your Own Without Losing Your Deposit

Heard the horror stories about landlords unreasonably withholding a deposit at the end of a tenancy?

Unfortunately in spite of the various protection schemes for tenants, it is still common for, shall we say more ‘creative’ landlords to hold back some of the deposit against semi-legitimate but ultimately spurious reasons.

Just this week I have heard of a tenant being quoted £40 to replace two smoke alarm batteries and £100 to clear junk from an external store that she was never told she had use of, or given a key to!

Alas, many landlords look to the deposit to boost their income and help cover some of the loss in rent between tenants. Clearly not what it is intended for.

So, how can you make your tenanted property a home, without jeopardising the deposit?

Here are a few pointers to get you on the right path:

  • Check that the deposit is placed into a protection scheme, it is a legal requirement.
  • Check out your agent/landlord before you sign up. Google their names to see if there is adverse comment online. Private let? Check their Facebook profile, it might give you some clues about their character.
  • Carefully check the inventory before you move in and take your own photographs for reference later.

Once you’re in the property:

  • If you want to alter anything material, get written permission beforehand. If, for example you obtain permission to paint, get the colour approved, number of coats, standard of workmanship etc. As a rule we suggest it is better not to embark on such projects.
  • Stay off the hook. Don’t use screws and nails to hang pictures – use a non-marking alternative such as Command Damage Free Hooks that stick on and remove easily.
  • Don’t alter the garden. Maintain it but if you wish to plant, use tubs. The bonus is, you can take them with you when you leave.
  • If you notice a problem that isn’t your fault ie a leaky overflow pipe, report it promptly in writing – if you don’t you may be liable for damage caused.
  • If possible, when you’re due to leave, take your new property a day or two before your old agreement expires – that way you’ll have time to go back and clean thoroughly.

Although the vast majority of landlords are fair, if you feel you have been charged for an unfair fault, check the procedure to appeal with the relevant deposit scheme.

Jonathan Rolande

Jonathan Rolande

Jonathan Rolande began in the property industry in 1987 and has extensive knowledge of the property buying sector. Jonathan is also an avid supporter of greater regulation in the industry. Founding the National Association of Property Buyers to offer essential information to property sellers.