16 March 2018
Specialist insurance provider HomeLet look at how you the tenant can protect your deposit when renting.
Before you move into a rental property, it's highly likely that your landlord or letting agent will require you to pay a deposit.
The deposit which is usually one or two months rent, covers the tenant meeting the terms of the tenancy agreement, damage and rental payments.
Since 2007, it has been a mandatory requirement for all deposits taken on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (the most common type of tenancy) to be protected with one of three Government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes.
Linley & Simpson are proud to use The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), more information on them can be found here.
How do I know if my deposit is protected?
Once your landlord (or their letting agent) has received your deposit, they are legally required to place it with an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme for the duration of your tenancy.
They must do this within 30 days of receiving your deposit. It is then down to them to provide you with information regarding where your deposit has been protected during the same period.
If you do not receive communication from your landlord or agent on which scheme your deposit has been placed with, you can ask them and they should be able to tell you.
Getting your deposit back at the end of a tenancy
At the end of the tenancy, the landlord or agent is required to return your deposit within 10 days. This depends on whether it has been agreed what sum will be repaid to you.
The landlord is entitled to make deductions from your deposit for damage, missing items, unpaid rent and cleaning costs.
If, however, you don't agree with any deductions proposed by the landlord then you can challenge them. If you can't come to an agreement, it can then be referred to the relevant deposit protection scheme's Alternative Dispute Resolution team which will investigate the case and make a final decision on if and how much should be returned to you.
Why is deposit protection important?
According to the latest English Housing Survey, the private rental sector now accounts for 20% of all households - 38% of which have dependent children.
Therefore, it's vital that tenants have the peace of mind that their deposit is in a safe place for the duration of their tenancy.
What's more, mandatory deposit protection has made the system fairer and more transparent for all parties. It allows tenants to challenge deductions fairly to stop deposits being unfairly withheld at the end of a tenancy term.
Additionally, its worth noting that another way you can help improve your chances of easily receiving your full deposit back at the end of a contract is to ensure that the condition of the property is left in a clean, habitable state. Landlords often must earmark a portion of a deposit to pay for a deep clean of a property following a tenants exit this goes beyond a quick tidy and a vacuum. It might be worth purchasing an oven cleaning kit, some carpet shampoo and some window cleaner to bring the property back to its former state before you moved in.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution system that goes hand in hand with deposit protection provides a fair and categorical way of handling disputes, helping to make sure that neither tenant, landlord or letting agent are left out of pocket at the end of a tenancy.