Landlords – don’t withhold a deposit without good reason
Be specific about why you are withholding a deposit from a departing tenant.
When a tenant departs and leaves their accommodation in a mess, landlords are entitled to retain an appropriate part – or all – of the tenant's deposit to cover the clean-up and repair costs. However, the landlord can only retain a reasonable sum and must be able to show exactly what the deposit is used for, preferably supported by invoices and an inventory.
Bristol landlord had to return the deposit
A landlord operating in Bristol was recently forced to hand back a deposit to student tenants who provided evidence including photographs to back up their claim that the landlord's retention was unjust*.
In the absence of invoices as proof of what the deposit had been used to pay for, the landlord had no choice but to return the deposit.
Be organised – and keep records
It can be an expensive process to clean up accommodation and prepare it for the next tenant. To ensure you can keep a fair amount of the deposit to cover the costs, follow the guidance on our checklist.
Checklist on deposit retentions for landlords
- Do take photos of the premises before the tenant moves in.
- Do ensure you take a deposit at the outset.
- Visit the premises on the day that the tenant leaves – and, if possible, take photos while the tenant is there.
- Obtain quotes for the cleaning and repair costs.
- Instruct trusted workmen or cleaners to carry out the work.
- Obtain and keep invoices for the work done.
- Write to the tenants to confirm how much of the deposit will be retained- and supply copies of the invoices as proof.
*Source: The Independent
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.