Avoiding inventory and deposit disputes - Private Renters in Camden

Avoiding inventory and deposit disputes 

However well you look after your rented property, it will not be in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start. Wear and tear to carpets, flooring, and other fixtures fittings and decorations will, inevitably, have taken place. Even well looked after contents will deteriorate with time and use.  

Landlords need to allow for fair wear and tear during a tenancy. Tenants will normally be liable for breakages, missing items, or damage to the property which is in excess of fair wear and tear. 

Before you leave the property 

You'll have a better chance of getting all or most of your deposit back if you leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. 

  • It's a good idea to get evidence of the condition of the property when you leave in case you and your landlord disagree on how much deposit you should get back 
  • Take dated photos or videos of the property to show how it was when you left (including any furniture, appliances included) 
  • get a check-out inventory and ask your landlord to sign it - this could include things like the condition of carpets and walls  

What deductions can your landlord make to your deposit?

You might not get the full amount of your deposit back if, for example: 

  • You owe rent 
  • You've damaged the property - this could be a stain on the carpet or damage to the wall where you have hung pictures 
  • You've lost or broken some items from the inventory, like some cutlery or mugs 

Your landlord shouldn't take from your deposit 

  • Replace a worn carpet with a new one if it's worn out gradually over time 
  • Fix any damage caused by a repair they didn't do when they should have, for example a leak you told them about that got worse and damaged the floor 
  • Decorate a whole room if there are a few scuff marks on a wall that have appeared while you've lived in the property 

Your landlord can't take money from your deposit for 'reasonable wear and tear' - this means things that would gradually get worse or need replacing over time, for example paintwork, or a piece of furniture. 

What if you still disagree with the deductions made 

Your landlord can't take unreasonable amounts of money from your deposit. They should tell you why they're taking money off - if they don't, ask them. 

  • It's best to get your landlord's reasons in writing if you can - that way you can refer back to them if you need to take action to get your deposit back. 
  • Ask them for more information about the money they're taking from your deposit if it's not clear. For example, if they've taken money off for decorating, you can ask to see a quote from the decorator to prove how much the work cost. 

If you still can't agree with your landlord, you can take further action. 

The action you take against your landlord will depend on whether your deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) - most deposits should be. 

If you're not sure if your deposit is protected, or you don't know what scheme your money is in, find out how to check your landlord has protected your deposit

If your deposit is protected 

You should usually get your deposit back within 10 days of agreeing on the amount with your landlord. It can take a lot longer if you and your landlord disagree on the amount that's being taken off. 

Your landlord should have told you what scheme they used -  

Alternative Dispute Resolution 

All three tenancy deposit schemes have an 'alternative dispute resolution' (ADR) service to help you get your deposit back. 

You should use the ADR service if you can - it's free and easy to make a claim. 

You'll usually have to make your claim within three months of moving out of the property. Check your scheme's website to find out how to use their ADR service. 

You'll have to accept the ADR service's decision. 

If you're only disputing part of your deposit, you'll get the rest of your money back straight away. You'll usually get your money back in 10 days but it'll depend on your situation and what scheme your deposit is in. 

What if my landlord refuses to use the ADR? 

You'll need to take your landlord to the small claims court to get your money back. 

Going to court can be expensive and stressful. You'll have to pay court costs upfront - you might get them back if you win your case. 

What if my deposit is not protected? 

Not everyone's deposit needs to be protected. It doesn't need to be protected if, for example, you're a lodger or a student in halls. 

If your deposit should be protected 

If your deposit should be protected but isn't, you might be able to claim compensation of 1-3 times the amount. You'll also get your deposit back, though there may be money taken off for any damage you've caused or if you owe rent. 

You'll have to go to court to get any compensation but you'll probably win your case if your landlord should have protected your deposit. Find out more about getting compensation if your landlord didn't protect your deposit

If you're not sure, you can find out if your landlord should have protected your deposit

You can also get help from your nearest Citizens Advice

If your deposit didn't need to be protected 

If your deposit didn't need to be protected and your landlord refuses to give it back, you might have to take them to court. 

Going to court can be expensive and stressful. You'll have to pay court costs upfront but you might get them back if you win your case. 

If you lose, you might have to pay your landlord's costs - this could be for things like travel expenses and court fees. 

You'll need to take your landlord to the small claims court to get your money back. 

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