HOW TO KEEP YOUR RENTAL RENTAL DEPOSIT
Thankfully, with tenancy deposit schemes in place in the rental sector, shocking stories of tenants losing their entire deposits are almost a thing of the past.
But it still could happen. Those entering into a tenancy agreement should be aware of the things they can do to ensure they part on good terms with their landlord and receive their deposit back at the end of the tenancy.
READ THE TENANCY AGREEMENT
This might sound like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people simply gloss over the finer points of the contract they are signing.
Ensure you read the agreement properly. It will inform you of the things you are responsible for and what you can and can’t do to the property.
While it might seem natural to hang some of your own art or pictures on the walls, some landlords will either insist you fill in the holes at the end of the agreement or stipulate that you don’t do it full stop!
Everything you need to know will be in the tenancy agreement so read it before getting that hammer out so there is no dispute.
...AND THE INVENTORY
Like tenancy agreements, inventories are sometimes only ‘skim-read’ by tenants. This is a mistake.
The inventory is in place as a safeguarding measure for the landlord, but also the tenant. Study it intently and go around the property to ensure all existing issues have been picked up. The last thing you want is to he held accountable for someone else’s poor treatment of the property.
BILLS, BILLS, BILLS
In research issued by ARLA Propertymark at the end of last year, 31% of UK lettings agents cited rent arrears as the main reason tenants lose their deposits.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make your relationship with your landlord hit rock bottom, it’s failing to pay the rent or bills.
Think of it this way: If it were your property, you would ensure the mortgage and bills were paid without fail, or at least do everything in your power to pay up on time.
It’s no different in a rental property. You are the custodian of it and thus responsible for payment of rent, council tax and, more often than not, gas, electric and water charges.
Your landlord could have a justifiable reason to end your tenancy if you fail to pay your rent or bills on time and that will almost certainly involve losing at least some of your deposit to cover those costs.
This is quite simple in theory: Treat your rental property like you would treat your own home. The beauty of renting over buying is any major problems are the responsibility of your landlord or the managing agent – but only if you report the issue in good time.
A crack in an internal wall, for example, might send some tenants into a state of panic, fearing they will be blamed for causing damage.
But it could be a serious problem and one that could deteriorate quickly, so either let your landlord or the managing agent know as soon as you can.
Landlords will take fair wear and tear into account during your tenancy, but leaving problems to fester could see them fall into the ‘excessive’ damage file, risking your deposit.
KEEP THE PROPERTY CLEAN
Leave it as you found it is the general rule of thumb here and the inventory will make clear the kind of condition the property was in at the start of the tenancy.
Rather than letting the cleanliness of your rental home slowly decline, though, before a frantic and often fruitless bid to bring it back up to standard at the end of the tenancy, keep it clean and tidy throughout your time there.
Poor cleanliness was the biggest reason for withholding deposits in 2017 research by ARLA Propertymark, so be warned.
If your rented home has carpets, get them professionally cleaned every quarter.
They are expensive to replace and if your landlord feels the state they are in does not fall into the ‘fair wear and tear’ bracket, they could use some or all of your deposit to purchase a new one.
If your property has hard or laminate flooring, it may seem like a blessing given the above, but these floors can become scratched or chipped. Use protective feet on tables, chairs and sofas – anything that could move and damage flooring.
MOW THAT LAWN...IF YOU NEED TO
Tenancy agreements will generally outline tenant responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the outdoor space of a property – another reason to study your agreement closely.
Like grubby carpets, sorting out an overgrown garden can be costly and if you have failed to maintain it as per the terms of your agreement, it will most likely be your deposit paying for a tidy-up.
Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you.
TAKE YOUR STUFF WITH YOU
Some tenants see vacating a property as an opportunity to get rid of old furniture without a trip to the tip.
If your landlord has to pay someone to remove your things at the end of a tenancy agreement, it will come out of your pocket.
Of course, your landlord may be rather grateful to receive something you longer wish to keep, but ask first. Don’t just leave it behind!
DISPUTES DO HAPPEN SOMETIMES
If you do end up in a dispute with your landlord over your deposit, use the free resolution services offered by tenancy deposit schemes.
They are in place to protect both of your interests so make use of them and contact them quickly if you enter into a disagreement over your deposit.
It may seem obvious, but much of the above can be avoided if you show respect as a tenant. You are the guardian of someone else’s property, so treat it like you would your own.
If you do that, the chances are you will receive 100% of your deposit and a glowing reference from your landlord at the end of the tenancy.
If you have any questions about your tenancy please refer to your Terms of Business document and Tenancy Agreement. Alternatively, you can speak to your local Ellis & Co branch.
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Know your responsibilities as a tenant
Your tenancy agreement will outline your responsibilities so make sure you read it but, in the meantime, Ellis & Co’s have listed the top obligations for tenants.