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Do you know what you can and can't claim for when making deposit deductions?

When renting out a property, most landlords choose to take a deposit from their tenant prior to the tenancy starting. It acts as a level of protection to landlords and should the tenant breach the terms of the Tenancy Agreement (such as casuing damage to the property or not maintaing the garden when the agreement states that it is the tenants responsibility).

Our latest 12 page guide 'Rules of Claiming for Deposit Deductions' has been written by mydeposits Head Adjudicator Suzy Hershman based on her unrivalled experience in dealing with deposit disputes and from carrying out adjudication workshops:

“I’ve resolved deposit disputes for over 7 years and the same reasons for deductions come up time and time again. I wanted to write this guide to highlight common reasons for disputes and offer some tips to help with negotiation at any stage during the tenancy and to prevent issues becoming a formal dispute at the end of the tenancy.”

The guide walks landlords through how to lodge a claim and looks at some of the most common dispute issues so that you know what to do if you are ever faced with the circumstances. It's important to understand what you can and can't claim for from the outset so that any confusion at the end can be avoided: 

What you can claim for

Your Tenancy Agreement, which should be signed by both yourself, the landlord and the tenant at the start of the tenancy, should clearly explain the circumstances where all or part of the deposit may be retained. Our guide on 'What to include in your Tenancy Agreement' gives details on the areas to be considered, but in a broad sense you can claim for:

  • General Maintenance
  • Outstanding rent
  • Repairs required to the property beyond what is deemed to be fair wear and tear

What you can’t claim for

It's important to remember that the deposit is the tenant’s money and in the event of a dispute, there are certain things you can’t claim for:

  • Costs related to the preparation of a dispute: You can't claim for any time spent gathering and submitting evidence to the dispute process.
  • More than the deposit amount: The scheme’s remit is limited to the protected amount. If you want to claim for more than the deposit value because you feel damage to the property is higher in value than that of the deposit for example, then you would have to pursue the tenant through the Court system.
  • Fair wear and tear: Make sure that your calculations take into account; the length of the tenancy, the age and quality of items/areas, its condition at the start and the number and type of occupants.
  • Betterment: You can only claim for an amount that would put the property back in the same, and not better condition than it was originally.

Understanding what you can and can’t claim for will help in the unlikely event that a dispute does occur and should help you to feel more assured when calculating any necessary deductions from the deposit.  For example, it’s up to you as the landlord or agent to prove that there is a valid reason for a carpet clean because of a wine stain by providing evidence such as photographs, cleaning receipts and quotes to prove that your claim(s) are fair and proportionate.

Our latest guide not only goes into more detail about what you can and can’t claim for, but also looks at some of the most common dispute issues and top tips when claiming, some of the common pitfalls landlords make when lodging claims, and provides a quick run-down on the evidence which can support your claim.

Read our latest guide Rules of Claiming for Deposit Deductions here.