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10+ Most Common (& Unfair!) Landlord Deposit Deductions UK

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Will Southall

Will Southall

4 months ago - 6 minute read

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Moving from one rental to another isn’t an ideal situation for tenants. Usually, you have a lot to pay for when you move, including a new deposit on your next property.

Unfortunately, you won’t know how much of your deposit you’ll get back until after you move. Unless you use a Lifetime Deposit (which moves home with you), this can put renters in a tricky situation.

To help you prepare and anticipate charges, we’ve compiled this list of the most common landlord deposit deductions and the most UNFAIR landlord deposit deductions.

What are the Most Common Landlord Deposit Deductions in the UK?

You should check your lease to see what charges you may be liable to pay when you move out.

But it’s also good to know what the most common landlord deposit deductions are, regardless of what it says in your lease!

If you know what you may be charged for, you can better avoid the charges or prepare yourself for not getting the money back later.

1. Unpaid rent

One of the most common landlord deposit deductions is for unpaid rent. If you missed payments during your tenancy, or didn’t pay your last few bills, your landlord can deduct the remaining amount from your deposit.

Any unpaid late rent fees can also be deducted from your deposit.

However, if you owe lots of money in unpaid rent, they can’t charge you more than your deposit amount. They’ll have to take proper legal action to get this money back.

2. Poor cleaning

Landlords can be strict about end-of-tenancy cleaning. They usually want you to leave the property in the same state or better than when you moved in.

Your cleaning responsibilities should be set out within your lease. If it doesn’t say much, read our ultimate end-of-tenancy cleaning guide to make sure you get your deposit back in full.

3. Lost or broken furniture

When you’re renting a furnished property, you have a responsibility to look after your landlord’s items.

Within your lease, you should have some concessions about what happens to furniture due to normal wear and tear.

For example, slight fading of furniture or normal degrading of appliances should be expected over time. Or some landlords may say 1 or 2 glass breakages are acceptable over a 2-year lease.

However, if you’ve broken items, particularly large items, like beds or sofas, your landlord can charge you a portion of their replacement.

Likewise, if something has mysteriously gone missing from the property, and your landlord notices, they can charge you for it.

If you’re unsure what’s yours and what’s not, check your lease inventory.

4. Serious damage

Another common deposit deduction is when tenants cause serious damage to the property. While this usually includes big, obvious damages, it can include small things, too.

Some things that may class as serious damage include:

  • Smashed windows
  • Broken doors
  • Missing door handles
  • Large dents in walls
  • Severely damaged or broken appliances, especially when they are new
  • Major cracks in patios that aren’t caused by general wear and tear

What counts as serious damage will vary depending on the length of the tenancy. The original condition of the property, and the number/age of the occupants, will be taken into account.

Related article: How Lifetime Deposits can help moving renters

5. Deliberate neglect

Tenants have a duty of care to look after the property they rent. You are expected to look after the property and its furnishings as best possible.

You also need to follow any rules your landlord has, like ensuring the fridges are kept clean, and clothes are dried properly to prevent condensation.

If you don’t follow your lease or deliberately neglect the property, you could be charged a fair amount to repair the damage.

Examples of deliberate neglect could be:

  • Not looking after appliances, like washing machines and fridges
  • Causing damp or mould due to poor condensation prevention
  • Severely staining kitchen worksurfaces due to lack of cleaning

6. Pet damage

Renting with pets isn’t always easy. Landlords are often on the lookout for pet damage before you’ve even settled in!

Ensuring your inventory is accurate can prevent unfair deposit deductions when you move out.

But, if your pet has considerably damaged the property, more than general wear and tear allows, they can charge you.

For example, you could have deposit deductions for things like:

  • Chewed walls or furnishings
  • Claw marks on sofas, doorframes, or other furnishings
  • Severely worn or chewed carpet
  • Highly scratched flooring

Having pet insurance or tenant insurance can help protect you from deposit deductions.

You should also consider having a mutual agreement with your landlord about what will be considered “fair” pet damage before you move in.

Learn more via our renting with pets guide.

7. Bad redecorating

Accidents happen during a tenancy, and sometimes you’ll want to try and fix the issues before you move out to avoid a charge.

While it is often a good idea to get your deposit back in full, it can lead to more problems or higher charges if you do a bad job.

For example, bad redecorating could include things like:

  • Paint slopped over skirting boards
  • Mismatched wall colours
  • Poor carpet patching

Unless you’re certain you can repair the damage you’ve caused properly or that you can repaint the walls to the same standard as when you moved in, you could be charged a portion of the redecorating costs.

Related article: How to repair burnt carpet in a rental the EASY way

Most Common UNFAIR Landlord Deposit Deductions in the UK

As many seasoned renters will know, not all landlords are nice, and some don’t always play by the rules. Even though your letting agent may seem open and honest, there are some things landlords don’t want you to know.

Unfortunately, you need to be aware of unfair deposit deductions to avoid being charged more than you should be.

Here are some of the most common unfair landlord deposit deductions you may come across when moving out.

1. General wear and tear

UK law is very clear that tenants cannot be charged for fair wear and tear in a property they rent.

This means your landlord cannot charge you for minor property defects that have occurred during your tenancy due to its age or normal, long-term use.

Generally, this means they can’t charge you for things like:

  • Worn carpets
  • Faded curtains
  • Minor wall scrapes and scuffs
  • Worn furniture or furnishings

Unfortunately, general wear and tear is very open to interpretation, so what you may consider normal may be different to your landlord.

However, landlords can be known to make unfair deposit deductions for things classed as normal wear and tear, so be sure to dispute the charges if you think something isn’t right.

2. Redecorating

Many landlords will need, or simply want, to redecorate after you’ve moved out. This could be repainting the walls, replacing the carpets or buying new furnishings/appliances.

They may especially want to do this if you’ve lived there a long time and the walls or carpets have experienced fair wear and tear, like scuff marks or fading.

However, landlords cannot pass redecorating costs onto you just because they fancy changing the wall colour.

This is considered an unfair deposit deduction, as you are being charged for something that will be for the “betterment” of the landlord.

3. Structural damage

Unless you’ve been very reckless as a tenant, you shouldn’t have caused structural damage to the property during your tenancy.

Your landlord should have been undertaking routine visits and general maintenance to ensure the building is structurally sound.

If they haven’t and they’ve now discovered the building has structural damage that wasn’t caused by you, they can’t blame it on you.

4. Anything contradictory to the contract

It should go without saying, but some landlords are sneaky! They can’t charge you for something that they said they wouldn’t in your tenancy agreement.

For example, if they said they wouldn’t charge you for lost cutlery, they can’t deduct from your deposit for missing silverware simply because they’ve changed their mind.

An unfair deposit deduction that contradicts your tenancy could be anything, so make sure you read over your contract to see if your charges are aligned.

5. Costs associated with responding to a dispute

Another unfair deposit deduction from landlords is charging for any expenses they’ve incurred while responding to your deposit dispute.

For example, if they choose to hire a lawyer to review your deposit dispute, they cannot pass these costs onto you.

Likewise, if they decided to take time off work to respond to your dispute, they cannot make you pay for any lost income associated with the time off.

6. Claims over & above the deposit amount

A landlord can only make deductions from your deposit. They can’t charge you extra for various things!

So, if you paid £1,000 towards your deposit, they can’t try charging you £1,500.

If they think you need to pay them more money than your deposit amount, they need to take appropriate legal action against you to prove the charges.

Are You Moving Rental?

Renting isn’t always fair, especially when you’re moving from one rental to another. Luckily, we’ve got just the thing to make moving easier!

With a Lifetime Deposit, you no longer need to save up every time you move.

For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.

A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.

We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!

Get a Lifetime Deposit: Get started

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Will Southall

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Will Southall

If you're a renter, we've got your back. This corner of the Fronted site is loaded with everything from moving tips, Lifetime Deposits, and anything you need to make renting, or moving, a breeze.

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