Leaving a dirty property at the end of a tenancy is the main reason that tenants do not receive their deposit back, as discovered in new research by ARLA Propertymark.
Tenancy deposits are used to protect landlords from damage to their property and unpaid rent. Whilst the majority of tenants will receive their deposits back in full, there are instances where a landlord will need to retain some of the money to over costs. 88 per cent of respondents in the ARLA survey said that the main reason tenants fail to receive their deposits back is that their property is messy or dirty.
Whilst a professional cleaning company is not a necessity at the end of a tenancy, it can help tenants achieve the expected standard of cleanliness. To avoid disputes, landlords should take photos at the beginning of the tenancy to ensure that the same level of cleanliness is attained at the end.
Gardens were also a point of contention in terms of deposit, with 44 per cent of letting agents saying that a lack of outdoor maintenance is a key reason for a deposit to be retained. Damage to the property was also an issue, with 39 per cent holding back deposits due to factors such as greasy blue tac marks. On a similar vein, 29 per cent cited carelessness and lack of maintenance as a problem.
Finally, deposits cannot be returned until rent arrears are sorted. 31 per cent of deposits are not returned in full due to long-standing rental arrears.
President, ARLA Propertymark, Sally Lawson, commented: ‘When you’re leaving a property you’ve been renting, the general rule is to leave it as you found it. Make sure you haven’t left any personal belongings behind, and that the property is clean and tidy for the next tenants. You should flag any damaged items to your letting agent or landlord during the agreement, so that when you leave, it doesn’t come as a shock. This will also help you develop a good relationship with them, which will be useful for any reasonable negotiations about the deposit. Finally, you should always take photos of the property at the start and at the end of your contract, so that if you need to dispute any of the deposit deductions, you can evidence your points.’