How to Deal With Deposit Disputes
So, you’ve come to the end of your tenancy. Unfortunately, the landlord has a few qualms about certain aspects of the property and refuses to give you the full deposit. A dispute has broken out, but don’t worry! We’re here to provide you with advice on how to deal with a deposit dispute and hopefully, get it fully resolved so that you can move into your next home.
Try and resolve disputes directly with the landlord
As a tenant, you need to request your landlord’s deposit back, and they then have ten days to respond and open any discussions about possible deductions. However, at the same time, they also need to give you back any part of the deposit that is undisputed. The remainder will stay in the government deposit scheme used until the dispute has been sorted out.
If an insurance-based scheme is being used, the landlord is expected to repay you the deposit, and then they pay the disputed amount into the scheme, where it stays until the matter is resolved.
To raise a dispute, a landlord has to provide you with a list detailing all the deductions and a reasoning for each. If they do not provide you with this list, make sure you request one! If you have been renting the property for a long time, you may be asked to contribute towards freshening up the place. This might include splitting the bill for a new paint job or fixing holes in the wall where you hang your pictures.
It is important to be fair when you are discussing deductions and that you do approve those that make sense. However, if you think that a deduction is unfair, state your argument clearly and calmly, making sure you have documents and photos to back yourself up. In general, these disputes can be solved with a calm discussion.
Ensure that you have the discussion and confirmation of the deposit return in writing, not simply spoken between you. An email will suffice.
Landlords can only take deductions for certain things
You must be aware of the situations in which a landlord cannot deduct from your deposit so that you do not lose any of your money unnecessarily. Repair of appliances and items that are key to the property’s function, for example, basins, baths, central heating and boiler issues must all be solved by the landlord. Maintenance of the home’s structural integrity, for example, ceiling repairs and gutter problems, is also not something that can cause a deduction in your deposit repayment.
What if I can’t solve the dispute with my landlord?
If a dispute cannot be solved directly between a landlord and a tenant, the first port of call should be to raise a dispute with your deposit protection scheme. This can help to solve problems, with the deposit scheme acting as a mediator. All you need to do is raise the dispute on their website, submit evidence and wait to see what the scheme decides should happen to the deposit.
Will I need to take my landlord to court?
You may need to consider court action if your deposit was not in a protection scheme or if your landlord will not use the scheme to decide what happens to the deposit. Court action often takes a lot of time, and sometimes a landlord will decide to drop the case to avoid the situation if you have a good case.
Ensuring you get the correct amount of your deposit back is important, but it is also important that you act fairly. Any dispute that does arise can often be solved with a well-mannered conversation. If this is not the case, the other options outlined above will help resolve the issue fairly.