Have you been refused your deposit? Here’s what to do

AFS Team·9 July 2018·6 min read
Have you been refused your deposit? Here’s what to do
By Elizabeth Whittingham

The majority of disputes between tenants and landlords happen at the end of the tenancy and the vast majority of these disputes are based around the topic of cleaning and the payment of the deposit.

Whilst it is apparent that certain landlords are well within their rights to deny a deposit, due to the property being left in a rather unacceptable condition by the previous tenants, there are some instances where the tenants do feel that they have been unfairly treated in the proceedings and that their obvious effort in cleaning the property has been largely ignored by the landlord.

If you personally feel that your deposit has been unjustly denied or if your landlord is withholding part of it, then try not to worry just yet, there are plenty of available steps for you to take in order to hopefully get your money back.

Firstly, it’s important to understand why your landlord refused to pay your deposit back in the first place.

In order to appeal their decision you do need to have a valid reason for your grievances, for example, if your house really was in a terrible state, then you will not have that much of a convincing case to put forward.

If you landlord does not state why they are refusing your deposit, you are well within your rights to ask them the exact reasons, it’s always best to do this via email so that you have it all in writing if you do need to use any of it for evidence when using the resolution service.

Ask for specifics, for example, if they are deducting money for a painter and decorator to come in then ask the painting and decorating company name to compare the amount deducted by the landlord with the actual cost of the painter.

Landlords can deny a deposit for many reasons; such as broken appliances that were not reported during to the tenancy, dirt and grime, stains, broken inventory items and damage to the walls in the form of scratches, marks and blue tack stains.

There are also factors that a landlord should not use as a reason for taking your deposit, these are; a badly worn carpet- as this is a reflection on the poor condition of the property, an item that you reported as broken during the tenancy yet was not fixed, reasonable wear and tear and structural issues.

If you are certain that you and your housemates took care of all of all factors, then you can start the appeal process.

Every tenancy agreement is protected by a tenancy deposit scheme, which is basically what you pay your deposit into at the start of your renting venture.

Contrary to popular belief, your landlord isn’t ‘living it up’ in the city with your deposit; it’s placed into a scheme until it can then be released by the landlord back to you at the end of the tenancy.

As part of the tenancy deposit scheme, there is a resolution service which you can use during a landlord dispute.

The resolution service is completely free and will basically consist of you and the landlord providing evidence which is then reviewed by the resolution service; the decision made after this is usually final and cannot be appealed again.

You will usually have to make your claim within three months of moving out the property, you will have to provide images, email evidence, check in and check out inventories, a receipt if you paid for the property to be professionally cleaned by a hired in company and any letters and emails that were written to the landlord stating that items were broken during the tenancy.

Although you will not be able to challenge the decision of the resolution service, it’s free of charge and worth giving a go if it means you could get more of your money back.

The resolution service is usually quite an effective and simple process to do, the only downside, and one that can create quite a lot of issues, is that the landlord has to also approve to the process and send their evidence in too, which, given the circumstances, can often by quite tricky to achieve.

If the landlord refuses, and you are still determined to get your money back, then you will probably have to take them to a small claim’s court.

Going through a small claim’s court can be a rather stressful process; one of the main reasons for the resolution scheme is to ensure that court proceedings can be avoided in the first place, meaning that heading to court really is a last resort.

The whole procedure will cost money in terms of up front court costs, yet these will hopefully be won back if you do end up winning the case.

If worse has come to worse and your landlord is refusing to give evidence, then it’s best to search for your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau to go into their offices and chat to someone about your current situation and make plans for the court proceedings.

Despite the overhanging fear of court protocol, it is important overall to keep a clear head when dealing with a landlord dispute.

As long as you provide all the necessary evidence and information during your appeal process to the resolution board and as long as the landlord also complies, then the issue should hopefully be resolved and court hopefully avoided, meaning that you can get your money back to enjoy over the summer.