Getting your deposit back when you move out

Getting a deposit back on a rental property is notoriously tricky.

Check out these tips for making sure you get yours back in full.

Before you move in

Read your tenancy agreement

No matter what kind of rental property you’re moving into, the tenancy agreement should contain information about the deposit.

It will state the amount you have to pay, when it will be returned and, more importantly, the conditions under which it will (or won’t) be returned in full.

Make sure you read your tenancy agreement properly before you sign and query anything you’re unsure about. 

Check it’s legal

As of 2013, all security deposits must be deposited in a government authorised tenancy protection scheme.

If there’s no mention of this in your tenancy agreement then your landlord or agent could be breaking the law.

It is illegal to keep security deposits outside a tenancy protection scheme, so make sure you check your contract or ask to see proof from whoever’s renting out the property.

If they’re unable to prove that your deposit will be protected, don’t sign the contract and report them to the necessary authorities.

During your tenancy

Do the inventory

Once you’ve moved into your dream property you may be given an inventory form, which catalogues the condition of the property and any furniture that’s in it.

Although this is already completed for you, it’s a good idea to go around the property and check everything on the list, and add anything you believe should be included.

If you aren’t given an inventory by your landlord or agent there’s nothing to stop you from doing one yourself, as this safeguards you against any blame for pre-existing damage. Describe any issues in detail and take pictures as well – this is a good way to avoid any confusion or doubt.

Be sure to make a copy of the inventory and any other communications with your landlord or agent, as they will come in handy when you come to vacate the property.

Keep it clean

Although it might seem like an obvious tip, you’d be surprised at how many people fail to keep their rental property clean throughout their tenancy.

Cleaning your property regularly will not only mean that you’ve got a nice space to live in, it will also mean less work when you have to move out.

In fact, many landlords or agents keep this in check by making regular property inspections throughout the year.

Respect the property

Remember that you’re renting a property that belongs to somebody else, and while it might be your home for now, you should treat it with respect. So, be careful.

Again, this might seem like an obvious tip, but it can often slip your mind over a long period of time.

Always ask before making changes

If you’d like to make any changes to the property – hanging pictures, for example – you always need to ask first. Most agents or landlords will allow these kinds of changes, but if you don’t ask before you do it, you could be charged when it comes to moving out.

Before your move out

Hire the professionals

No matter how clean you’ve kept the property while you’ve been living there, it’s always wise to hire a professional cleaner before you leave. Professional cleaners can steam the carpets, clean the windows and get rid of any dirt that you may have missed.

The cleaner you can leave the property, the better it looks to the agent or landlord, and your chances of getting your deposit back are increased.

Fix it up

Most tenancy agreements state that ‘general wear and tear’ is allowed, but this doesn’t cover anything that is blatantly broken.

If you’ve broken any fixtures or furniture during your tenancy, and you haven’t got them fixed earlier, make sure they are all in working order before you move out.

Hire someone to do the repairs (or do them yourself), and be sure to replace anything that can’t be fixed.

Check the inventory

If you’ve followed the previous steps, you should have a copy of the inventory from when you moved in.

Do a thorough inspection of the property, ticking off pre-existing issues (included in the original inventory) and make a note of anything that’s happened during your tenancy. Hopefully there won’t be any major issues, and if there are, get them fixed.

If all of this fails and you don’t get your deposit back in full (or at all), you can dispute it. The tenancy deposit protection scheme offers a free dispute resolution service, which you can use to appeal against your landlord or agent.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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