Deposit protection - tips for tenants
The housing charity Shelter has recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of tenancy deposit protection amongst tenants. It’s so important for tenants to know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to tenancy deposits. Being clued up from the start will help avoid problems for everyone at the end of the tenancy; so here is some advice on what to do when moving in and moving out of your rented home.
Before you hand over a deposit, ask your landlord if they are a member of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme – and which one!
Check that your deposit has been protected and that you have received prescribed information within 30 days of the landlord receiving the money. Keep a receipt when you make the payment and if the deposit isn't protected within 30 days contact your landlord straight away to save everyone problems later. They might not be trying to cheat you – it could be a genuine mistake.
- Read and understand your tenancy agreement before you sign it. It has important information on what you can (and cannot) do during your tenancy. It may contain special clauses such as whether or not you can keep pets, or whether you have responsibility for particular aspects of the property such as a garden or valuable contents. If a dispute arises where you didn’t know about a clause in the agreement you may not get all of your deposit back!
- Get written permission from you landlord before you make any changes to the property. If you want to paint the walls or keep chickens in the garden, always consult your landlord and get agreement in writing. Be clear on how it is to be done, and in what condition the property should be returned.
- It is your responsibility to return the property in good condition. Clean the property regularly and if any damage occurs let your landlord or agent know in writing – don’t leave it until the end of the tenancy. To avoid any disputes, ask your landlord or agent to inspect the property before the full check-out so they can tell you if you need to carry out any maintenance before you leave. If you live in a shared property you have joint responsibility for maintenance so keeping your own bedroom spic and span isn’t enough! Cleaning accounts for over 50% of deposit disputes and the shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are your biggest risk. Even if it’s your flatmates who are messy, you still might have to pay to clean up after them!
- Attend the check-in and check-out inspections if you can. This is your chance to agree on the condition of the property and its contents. Keep a copy of the check-in report and write to your landlord as quickly as possible if there is anything you want to question.
- Only use agents who are regulated by a professional body such as NFoPP, RICS, NALS or The Law Society – or look for the ‘SafeAgent’ badge. A regulated agent has client money protection and a separate client account for any of your money which they hold.
- Make sure the agent and landlord know how to contact you at the end of the tenancy, so they can tell you about any problems with the property.
There’s lots of other useful information on www.tds.gb.com, such as case studies and guides to disputes and also the facility to check if your deposit is registered. If you have any questions, contact us on 0845 226 7837 or email@example.com
Follow us on Twitter @tenancydeposits and with the hashtag #depositprotection
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