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"I have used the Tenancy Deposit Scheme for numerous years. Whether I just need general advice or I need assistance logging a dispute they have always been helpful. I would always recommend them over other deposit schemes." Siana, Lettings Agent
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Nobody wants to have to end a tenancy with deductions from a tenancy deposit! Here we share our expert tips for landlords to pass on to their tenants on how to avoid unnecessary deposit deductions.
1. Check your tenancy agreement
Do you really know what you’re agreeing to? The terms of a tenancy agreement can vary from one landlord or agency to the next. Having a clear understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant, before signing the agreement is the best way to avoid disputes.
2. Is your deposit protected?
Have you had notification that your deposit is protected with a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme such as TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) and been served the prescribed information within 30 days of paying your deposit? If not, you should contact your letting agent/landlord. You can also check if your deposit is protected with TDS here.
3. The inventory/check-in documents are an opportunity not a chore
An Inventory/check-in document will be a key piece of evidence if there are any proposed deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy. This is your opportunity to confirm that you agree to the contents, condition and cleanliness of the property before your tenancy commences (or within a few days of your tenancy commencing).
Use this time to update your agent/landlord, in writing, of any areas or discrepancies you want to draw attention to, ensuring all parties agree that the document is a true reflection of the property. Remember to check any external areas and meter readings.
4. Are there any broken items or damage to the property?
Firstly, you should always check your tenancy agreement to see how you should report these issues to your landlord, and make sure that you repair or replace anything you've damaged during your tenancy in line with your tenancy agreement.
If you notice any issues in the property such as leaking pipes or blackening, don’t let them get worse, inform your landlord immediately to discuss the best course of action and get it confirmed in writing.
TDS offers a mid-tenancy mediation service, TDS Resolution, for unresolved mid-tenancy issues that may occur from issues like these.
5. Did you change anything inside or outside the property?
You must agree any changes to the property with your landlord and you should get these agreed in writing to avoid any disputes at the end of the tenancy. If you want to redecorate, make sure that you agree with your landlord beforehand and even confirm how the property should be returned at the end of the tenancy.
For example, if you agreed to paint a white wall yellow, does the landlord expect you to return it to white at the end of the tenancy and does it need to be painted to a professional standard? Consider this before making any changes and remember to rectify any changes, in line with what you agreed, before you move out.
6. Have you cleaned the house to the correct standard? Don't forget the garden!
Return the property to the same level of cleanliness as when you moved in. Don’t forget frequently missed areas such as the extractor fans, appliances and under kitchen units.
Gardens are a frequently forgotten area, so it is important that if the property includes a garden, it needs to be returned in the same condition as when you moved in. Check your inventory to remind yourself how the property looked when you arrived!
7. Why not ask for a pre-checkout inspection?
By inviting your landlord to look around the property a few weeks before you are due to leave, allows opportunity to check through the property with your landlord, raising awareness of any areas that require attention before you move out. This is a great way of resolving any issues before your check out inspection and reducing any potential for a deposit deduction/dispute.
8. Don’t forget to record your meter readings
Remember to take your meter readings on the day you leave, a quick photo of the meters should help to illustrate the date and time of these readings, so outstanding payments won't come your way.
9. Lock up and return the keys
Make sure you've locked up and hand the keys back directly to the landlord or agent, so they don't get lost in the post. Why not request a receipt to show that all the keys have been accepted or take a photo for your records?
10. Disagree with a deduction? Speak to the landlord first!
So, you've done everything right yet still find yourself with a deposit deduction? Communicate with your landlord. Look at the areas they have proposed deductions for and compare the check-out inspection with the inventory, this should clearly show if there are areas where a deduction is/isn’t merited and supply the landlord with any counterevidence to try and resolve the issue without the need for further action. Be assured that TDS offers a free end of tenancy dispute resolution service should you need it.
Want to find out more about how TDS helps landlords?
Landlords can find further tools and templates in the TDS Information Lounge, all designed to help reduce deposit disputes and make life for landlords easier.