How Long Do Landlords Have To Return A Tenants Deposit?

Landlords Returning Tenants Deposit

Landlords must ensure that arrangements are made to return the tenants’ deposits within a certain timeframe after the tenancy agreement has ended.

The amount to be returned will depend on the condition of the property after the tenant has vacated. But how long do landlords have to return the tenants deposit after the property has been inspected?

Landlords are required to return a tenants deposit within 10 days of the tenancy ending, and once both parties have agreed how much will be returned after the inspection. If the landlord does not return the deposit on time, the tenant can lodge a complaint with the tenancy deposit protection scheme.

The deposit is taken at the start of the tenancy agreement to give landlords financial security in case a tenant damages the property or items on the inventory.

Tenants can be assured that they will get their deposits back if they meet the terms of their tenancy agreement, do not cause any damage to the property or it’s contents and pay all the bills including the rent.

If there are any disputes between the landlord and tenant regarding the deposit at the end of the tenancy, both or either parties should be referred to the tenancy deposit protection scheme.

It’s important for landlords to keep records of the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy, including check-in and check-out reports, an inventory and any expenses made to replace items during the tenants tenure.

The repayment of a deposit can be raised to the tenancy deposit protection scheme by either the landlord or tenant when the tenancy ends. Irrespective of who notifies them, the other party will be informed.

Once both parties have agreed, the money is paid out directly to the tenant and landlord if agreements are made on any claims.

Can Landlords Keep A Tenants Deposit?

In summary, a landlord cannot keep a tenants deposit unless the tenant owes rent or has caused damage to the property or any items listed on the inventory. If the landlord has incurred some financial losses, they should submit a claim to the tenants deposit protection scheme.

Tenants’ can ask their landlords or letting agents for a breakdown of specific costs if they are presented with a bill at the end of the tenancy.

Common Claims On A Tenants Deposit

  • Unpaid rent at the end of a tenancy
  • Unpaid bills at the end of a tenancy
  • Missing items from the properties inventory
  • Damage to any items on the properties inventory
  • Damage to the property including the fixtures and fittings
  • Damage caused by negligence and lack of maintenance
  • Poor cleanliness at the end of the tenancy
  • Unkept garden or other facilities (depending on tenancy agreement)
  • Unwanted belongings left in the property after the tenant has vacated

Fair wear and tear on furniture, fixtures and fittings and white goods or other items listed on the properties inventory cannot be deducted as an expense from the deposit.

How Long Does The Landlord Have To Make A Claim On A Deposit?

The landlord has a period of 7 days after the tenant has vacated the property to make a claim on the deposit. If the landlord has incurred some financial losses due to the tenant’s behaviour, they should submit a claim to the tenants deposit protection scheme.

Claims which are likely to be paid quickly include:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid bills
  • Missing or damaged items from the property inventory

The tenants deposit protection scheme will require the landlord to provide evidence of the financial losses and the claim will be assessed by a member of the scheme.

It’s a good idea to speak to the tenant before the end of the tenancy to establish whether there will be any claims on the deposit and to negotiate the return of any damages.

How Long Does A Tenant Have To Dispute A Deposit Claim?

Tenants usually have three calendar months, from the date they move out of the property, to raise a dispute on a claim that the landlord has made on their deposit. Tenants should contact their tenancy deposit protection scheme to confirm the length of time they have to raise a dispute.

Dispute services are free, and the tenant should have the contact details of their tenancy deposit protection scheme as the landlord is required to give them the details within 30 days of the deposit being paid.

One of the most contentious issues when tenants move out of a property is usually the level of cleanliness expected. Landlords and letting agents should make it clear to tenants from the beginning what will be considered an acceptable level of cleanliness at the end of the tenancy.

There maybe a little back and forth on agreeing a figure to cover the cleaning expenses. If both parties do not agree on an amount, then the dispute resolution service can be approached.

The landlord will need to provide evidence which will include the tenancy agreement, check-in and check-out reports, any quotes, or any invoices for the professional clean that was carried out to restore the property to its original state at the start of the tenancy.

The tenancy deposit protection schemes adjudication will produce a report to let both parties know the decision that has been reached, and why. The amount of time this takes can vary, depending on a lot of factors, but all schemes will work to complete the dispute within 28 days of adjudicator receiving all the evidence.

What Should Tenants Do If The Landlord Doesn’t Return The Deposit Within 10 Days?

The tenant should contact the deposit protection service that the deposit has been secured with, and follow their internal dispute resolution process. If the landlord hasn’t secured the deposit, then the tenant can start the process of taking legal action via the small claims court.

The process is straightforward and it’s an easy win for tenants as landlords are legally required to protect the deposit. Landlords who don’t comply and protect the deposit can be fined up to three times the deposit amount.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker is a property investor and landlord with over 20 years of experience, providing free education to help others start or improve their Buy-To-Let business.

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