Tenants. Have you ever battled with your landlord or agent to get your deposit back? If you’ve left the place in clean, tidy and damage free there really shouldn’t be any issues. Most decent landlords and agents don’t want to keep your deposit. It’s a hassle! They just want the property left in good condition so the next tenant can move straight in.
Read my handy guide to make sure you and your landlord don’t fall out when it comes to handing back the keys.
Keep it clean
Yep to some it might sound obvious but lets face it, some of us have got different views and standards on what we call clean. If you want to stand a good chance of getting your deposit back at the very least you’ll need to enlist the help of some hot soapy water and a vacuum.
- Give all the woodwork a wash down to remove any grubby marks or dust.
- Wash kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets out to remove any left over food, crumbs or product
- Remove limescale and grease
- Clean the oven, hob and extractor
- Run a hoover round or if you’ve spilt anything on the carpet hire a carpet cleaner
- Wash down all the sanitary, shower screen and remove any hair from the plugs and at the very least put some bleach down the loo!
These are just the basics but if you don’t make an effort to clean the property the agents will automatically charge you for a professional clean and they’re well within their rights…that is of course bearing in mind it was in a good clean standard when you moved in.
Some agents are guilty of adding a professional cleaning clause as standard into your tenancy agreement but The Office Of Fair Trading strongly objects to this.
4.4 Cleaning charges – a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges).
4.8 Excessive cleaning charges – as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property.
If your agent tries to charge you for a professional clean, despite you already cleaning the property top to bottom, I would definitely argue the case.
Check Your Inventory
Most decent landlords and agents will give you an inventory when you move in. Guys this is so important, seriously. I know when you move into a new place the last thing you want to do is read through a 40+ page document, but this could be the difference between you getting your deposit back.
Not sure what an inventory is? It basically lists EVERYTHING that’s in your property and more importantly describes the condition. You need to read it through and check it off.
Have you found a rip in your kitchen vinyl floor but there’s no mention of the damage in the inventory? Well you need to write that onto your document.
Black mould on the bathroom seal but no mention of it in the inventory and the condition is described as excellent? Hmmm I would disagree. WRITE IT DOWN.
Noticed that your living room wall is described as freshly painted Egyptian Cotton but in reality is more a dirty shade of beige with grubby marks all over it? WRITE IT DOWN!
Ok sorry for shouting but I really can’t tell you enough how important this document is if there’s ever a dispute over your deposit. Write any differences you’ve noticed onto your inventory and keep a copy before you send it back to your agent.
If you genuinely feel you’ve left the property in a better condition than when you moved in the inventory will help prove it.
Speak to your agent or Landlord
When you’ve handed in your notice your agent or landlord should write to you with some kind of check out procedure. Make sure you follow it as closely as possible, as long as you think they’re being reasonable that is and make sure you’re then when they do the check out report.
If the carpets were filthy when you moved in and you had them professionally cleaned during your tenancy then I wouldn’t worry about cleaning them again. If your agents are forcing you to have them cleaned I’d get that inventory out. You know the one I mentioned earlier? Remind them of the condition before you moved in and how you’ve improved them during your stay. As long as you haven’t left any marks that weren’t there already, they can’t force you to have them professionally cleaned and more importantly they can’t deduct it from your deposit.
If you redecorated the property, a landlord or agent would normally expect you to ask permission first. If they did agree to you redecorating it would usually be on the basis that you repaint the property the colour it was when you first moved in. Check with your landlord and ask for the exact brand and shade of paint they want you to use. It’s probably Magnolia but shades can vary depending on which brand and finish you use.
Any shelves or pictures hooks you’ve hung will have to be removed, holes filled, sanded and repainted to such a good standard that you’d never even know they were there. Word of advice? In future use Command Strips, they are literally a renters best friend. No picture hooks or nails, just sticky little strips that can hold pictures frames up to 3.5kg in weight! I always ask all our tenants to use them instead of picture hooks as they’re so much easier to remove. Oh and just before you roll your eyes, no this isn’t some kind of discreet sponsored post I promise, I’m just fed up with seeing badly patched up walls and seriously, Command Strips are amazing.
So in a nutshell. Make sure your inventory is accurate and if you think you’ve left the property in a good, clean condition don’t let them charge you for a professional clean. Just make sure the property is of a similar standard to when you first moved in.
If your agent or landlord is still trying to deduct a fee from your deposit and you disagree then make sure you tell your deposit protection scheme. If you and your agent cannot come to an agreement then the case will go to an adjudicator to review where they’ll look over the inventory and compare it to the check out report.
Have you ever had anything deducted from your deposit or do you feel you’re being unfairly charged by a landlord or agent? Please leave a comment and I’ll see if I can help.