5 Tips for Tenants: Ensuring That You Receive Your Security Deposit Back

At Brooke Steel we understand that circumstances can change, which is why we’ve compiled some top tips to help you increase your chances of seeing your security deposit again, whenever you decide to move on.

It’s certainly not going to get your heartbeat racing and some may consider watching paint dry a more enjoyable exercise, however, this article will give you some useful tips on safeguarding your deposit, and let you know all of the rights and responsibilities that you have. So you never know, this article could save you hundreds of pounds at some stage in the future – is that not worth a bit of your time away from the pub, Facebook, studying, and all other things recreational?

There’s no total guarantee of the safe return of a part or all of a deposit if the tenant has caused damage to a property accidentally or otherwise. Accidents do happen from time to time and a tenant has a duty to take responsibility if any damage is caused throughout the term of the tenancy.

However, if no damage has been caused within the tenancy period and the agent has taken fair wear and tear into consideration, (we’ll cover this in more detail later) then the agent/landlord cannot lawfully withhold part or all of the security deposit.

With all of that taken into consideration, here are our 5 top tips on receiving your security deposit back:

1st Top Tip

Deposit Registration

Agents/landlords have a legal duty to register a deposit with a deposit scheme, so you should firstly make sure that this step is taken to ensure that your deposit is either registered or held by a secure third-party.

They should issue the tenant with a certificate of registration at the point they move in, or the scheme administer will contact the tenant themselves shortly after to confirm the registration; this is dependent of the particular deposit scheme being used by the agent/landlord.

The agent/landlord legally has 30 days to register a deposit so there can sometimes be a delay in confirming the registration of a deposit, however, most of the good agents will register within the first week so our advice is to contact the agent after two weeks from the date of move-in to enquire about the progress of the registration.

There are three government authorised deposit protection schemes, offering both insurance based and custodial-based deposit protection, which can be leveraged by the tenant:

1. DPS (The Deposit Prospection Service)

2. TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme)

3. mydeposits

2nd Top Tip

Prescribed Information

Prescribed information accompanies any assured shorthold tenancy agreement and relates to the particular deposit scheme that the tenant has chosen to register with. Although it isn’t the most exciting of reads, it’s vital that you look into the document to understand your rights and responsibilities regarding the deposit. The information also lays out the agent’s/landlord’s responsibilities as well as the process from beginning to end.

For further information, please click here to read about tenancy deposit protection (link to https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview) from the Gov.uk website.

3rd Top Tip

Check Inventory

A Schedule of Condition (Inventory) should be carried out by the agent/landlord and will be issued to the tenant at point of move-in or within a short period of time after the move in date, (7 days).

Moving into a new home is a stressful time and there’s always a lot going on. However, it is vital to check and cross-reference the property’s inventory with the physical state of the property at the earliest opportunity. If there are any discrepancies between the two, this should be raised with the agent/landlord immediately and recorded so that all parties are aware and happy with the condition.

If an inventory has not been carried out by the agent/landlord, then it is prudent for the tenant to create one themselves. The property should be catalogued room by room and where possible, photos should be taken with a visible log of the date and time. Please see below for the recommended grading criteria, which will help to describe the conditions of the inventory.

  • Excellent – Item or feature brand new or freshly decorated.
  • Very Good – Very good condition with minimal visible marks or scuffs to item or feature.
  • Good – Average condition with maybe a few visible marks or scuffs to item or feature.
  • Poor – Poor condition with many visible marks or cuffs to item or feature.

This should be forwarded to the agent/landlord, and where possible the tenant should obtain written confirmation of the agent/landlord’s agreement or receipt.

4th Top Tip

Inspections

It is common for agents/landlords to regularly inspect the property on a quarterly or 6-month basis. They have a legal right to do this to ensure that the property is being properly maintained by the tenant, but also to check that the property hasn’t received damage by weather or simply the passage of time. These inspections are for the benefit of both parties, so the tenant should contact the agent/landlord and check the findings of the inspection of their own accord.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that issues are only raised at the end of the tenancy agreement. The tenant has a right to know the results of the inspection and if there have been issues raised, it is better to deal with them at this stage instead of at the end of the tenancy agreement, which could be several months or even years down the line.

5th Top Tip

Checkout

At the end of any tenancy term, the agent/landlord will attend the property to carry out the checkout report. The tenant may choose to attend this checkout but it is not essential, as the checkout report should be made available to the tenant upon request regardless. If there have been any issues raised, it is vital that the tenant obtains the report so it’s clear to them what particular damage has been caused, and allows them to determine whether the issue is accurate and has been caused by the tenant or whether it’s simply a case of fair wear and tear.

Fair wear and tear of the property and its content (furniture, plus fixtures and fittings), must be thought about when the agent/landlord is conducting a checkout. The agent/landlord should take the following into consideration assessing the content of the property:

  • Are items fair wear and tear?
  • Are items excessive wear and tear?
  • The length of the contract
  • The number of tenants occupying the property
  • The types of tenants occupying the property
  • The age of the property
  • The age of the property’s contents

Click here for a more detailed, ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) guide on the description of wear and tear

If there has been any damage caused, the agent/landlord has a right to make a claim against the deposit in order to cover the cost of any repairs or replacements. However, an agent/landlord cannot gain what’s called ‘betterment’ so they cannot replace contents, unless the whole of the item or feature had been damaged beyond repair, (This basically means that if part of an item or feature is damaged, they cannot charge the tenant for the replacement of all the item or feature).

They have to take into consideration the age and life expectancy of the item or feature with the size of the damage compared and the size of the item or feature itself, to calculate fairly.

Below are some helpful links with more detail on deposits and other aspects of residential lettings.

Click here for a Government “How to Rent” guide, which is packed full of useful nuggets of information.

Click here for the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) website for further information 

Click here for the Property Ombudsman (TPO) website, for further information

So, securing your deposit back can be easy if you know the precautions to take whilst you’re in a tenancy agreement. If you’re thinking of renting, why not get in touch with our Manchester based team on 0161 280 3140 or email info@brookesteel.co.uk today?

Contact Us

If you would prefer to speak to us, please call us on 0161 280 3140

Brooke Steel Estates

Brooke Steel Estates