Renters and landlords need to understand what a tenant’s deposit covers. Tenants should become familiar with their contractual responsibilities in the same way that landlords do.
A tenancy deposit protection scheme is now required by landlords as of April 1st 2013. A security deposit is typically required when renting a property privately, usually equal to the next month’s rent and not exceeding five weeks.
Depending on the contract or the landlord, tenants can also use their security deposit to pay their final month’s rent.
If the tenant is not complying with their obligations during the tenancy, some items may be deducted from the deposit.
A landlord can use the tenant’s deposit to cover arrears of rent if the tenant has any unpaid rent.
Rent due dates and the amount owed will be stated in the tenancy agreement issued by the landlord. The deposit could be taken if these requirements are not met.
Any property damage
Tenants who damage a landlord’s property can lose their security deposit. Also included in this can be a neglected garden or a damaged lawn.
Security deposits cannot be deducted for general wear and tear, however.
Damage that occurs over time is known as general wear and tear. For example, minor scratches on the walls, worn carpets, or faded curtains may be the cause. Over a long period of time, general wear and tear cannot be avoided.
The landlord should only charge like-for-like if the damage was caused after general wear and tear or if something has aged.
Similarly, if an old stove is damaged, the landlord should not charge the tenant for the new stove which is much more expensive.
Cleanliness of the property
Landlords can deduct cleaning costs from tenants’ security deposits if they make a mess on rented property.
It is expected that the property should be left in the same state as it was when the tenant moved in, so deductions from deposits are commonly made because of this.
There is usually an option for tenants to hire a professional cleaner or do the cleaning themselves.
If tenants want to make significant changes to the property, they should obtain the landlord’s written permission first.
Normally, the landlord is unable to put the furniture back in place after the tenancy ends if it has been redecorated or moved. When redecorating a property, damage can be caused by nails in the walls, for instance.
Changing a gas meter or removing a smoke detector might also create compliance issues since things like smoke detectors are legal requirements with legal repercussions.
Bills for utility
If the tenancy agreement states that the tenant is expected to pay utility bills, the landlord can withhold the security deposit.
Keeping receipts or getting a final bill from the utility company is recommended to avoid disputes with landlords about whether bills have been paid.
Items that go missing
Funds from a tenant’s security deposit can also be deducted for missing items.
Before a tenant rents out a property, landlords should keep a list of the items provided and the quality of those items.
A missing item is any item which is no longer present on the property by the end of the tenancy.
The value of the missing item can be deducted from the security deposit and if necessary, further action can be taken.