Top tips for keeping your rental deposit

The biggest financial commitment you make as a tenant renting a new property is your deposit.

And despite the influx of protection schemes aimed at safeguarding tenant deposits, many are left worrying if they will ever see the money again.

But there are a whole host of steps you can take as a tenant to give you the best possible chance of receiving your deposit back at check-out.

Know your obligations

From day one in your new rental property, it is essential you know what’s expected of you.

Everything you need to know should be in your tenancy agreement, but it is staggering how few tenants read this crucial document before signing.

Study it closely and understand what you can and can’t do in the property, as well as the things you are responsible for.

Check the inventory

The last thing you want as a tenant is to be held responsible for damage caused by a tradesperson or a previous occupant, so go through the inventory and look around the property to ensure everything has been included.

If you find an issue, raise it with either your landlord or managing agent as soon as you can.

Get your finances in order

‘I didn’t know I had to pay for the gas and electric’ is not a valid excuse for not doing so. Bills you are responsible for should be outlined in the tenancy agreement, so ensure they are paid in full and on time.

The same goes for your rent. Pay it on time each month – if you don’t, your landlord could evict you and that could also end up costing you your deposit.

Keep on top of the cleaning

Do not allow your rental property to become unclean. Dirt and grime becomes far more difficult to shift if untouched for a long period of time.

Your inventory report will outline the condition of the property on check-in – it needs to appear the same, less acceptable wear and tear, when you move out.

Take steps to protect things like carpets by asking people to remove their shoes and vacuuming regularly so dirt cannot become ground in.

Grubby hotspots like kitchens and bathrooms should be cleaned weekly to avoid a build-up of limescale or grease that could cause a landlord to call in the deep cleaners – and use your deposit to pay for it.

Don't stay silent

Communication between you and your landlord or managing agent is vital. While you rely on them to act quickly when dealing with a problem, they need you to report issues quickly.

Allowing problems with plumbing, heating or appliances to fester could end up in a dispute as something that could have been fixed early on descends into a costly repair job for your landlord.

Are you responsible for the garden?

If so, it will say so in your tenancy agreement. And if you are, it pays to bring out the mower during the warmer months or risk the garden becoming a jungle.

A garden tidy-up is something a landlord could use your deposit to pay for at the end of your tenancy, so a little hard work, care and attention to your outdoor space could save you a lot of money.

Surprise your landlord

Some landlords are naturally sceptical about the tenants living in their properties, so surprising them by going the extra mile to care for their property can go a long way.

Perhaps you aren’t responsible for the garden, but keeping it clean and tidy throughout your tenancy will be a huge tick in the box come check-out time.

And as well as improving your chances of getting your full deposit back, it could mean a superb reference from your landlord as you move to another rental property.

In a dispute? Then keep your calm

Disputes over deposits are difficult for all involved – landlords, tenants and letting agents.

The rule of thumb here is to be courteous and understanding, yet also firm and to the point if you feel you are in the right.

Whitegates recommends using the Deposit Protection Scheme’s resolution service if all else fails.

It will take the emotion and feeling out of the dispute and is therefore far more likely to reach an agreement between you and your landlord.

Please refer to your Whitegates Terms of Business document or speak to your local Whitegates branch if you have any questions

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Knowing your tenant responsibilities

Tenants who fail to deliver on their obligations could face hefty deposit deductions or even eviction, so it’s worth being aware of what is required of you before you move in. Whitegates has come up with seven responsibilities you are certain to face as a new tenant.

Clear and transparent fees

Whitegates believes that all who apply for a tenancy should understand all of the fees that they may be required to pay.

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