Tenancy Security Deposit

Moving home is stressful enough without wondering if your landlord will return your deposit. Landlords deduct for many reasons. But gone are the days of ruthless landlords who would keep your tenancy deposit, come what may. It’s now law for your deposit to be protected in a government scheme. There, it will stay, until it comes time to move on. It’s at this point you can make sure the property is in good condition and your landlord deducts the correct amount.

There’s no point asking for a full deposit if there are issues with the property. Your landlord may deduct money from your deposit for several things. In this short guide we detail what your landlord can and cannot deduct from your deposit.

Unpaid Rent and Bills

The most obvious deduction is unpaid rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rental payments, your landlord may take this from your deposit. If you have to leave in a hurry, and there is a bill coming, it’s advisable to make a note and dated photograph of meter readings. You can then guarantee that your landlord deducts the correct amount from your deposit.


Fancy yourself as the next Cornbread or Banksy? That’s all very well. But your landlord is unlikely to thank you for your work on their walls. If you want to get your deposit back in full, you’ll need to repaint over the wall(s). That’s unless your landlord has requested or commissioned your work!

Similarly, if you damage the walls by drilling holes to hang your own pictures, then when your landlord deducts from your deposit, you’ll know why. You can re-plaster the drilled hole yourself, but make sure you do a good job. It’s best not to drill holes full stop. You run the risk of hitting a water pipe, a gas pipe, or worse still, you could hit electricity with your metal drill.


Most properties are scrupulously clean before tenants move in. After all, your landlord is trying to let the property and a grubby look is never good. You should clean the property to the standard it was when you moved in. If you’re good at cleaning, enjoy it and have some time, great. Otherwise, save yourself the hassle and call in the professionals. You can get a one-bedroomed property cleaned from around £99.

End-of-tenancy cleaning price per hour starts from around £14, so the total cost will depend on how dirty the property is. For example, if you own pets, the property will require additional cleaning to get rid of odours. You’ll find that many cleaning companies also offer services, such as mattress, curtain, upholstery, and oven cleaning.

If you haven’t cleaned, then you expect your landlord to be calling up these services and making those deductions from your deposit. Therefore, the wisest choice is to get the cleaning done yourself, since you’ll only be billed, anyway. No one wants the embarrassment of leaving a property dirty. In addition, if you’d like a good reference for future renting, make sure you leave it nice and clean.

Good to know

It may be that you are in breach of your tenancy agreement by having smoked in the property or sneaked in your pet. This is where professional cleaning comes in. As long as you remove all trace and your landlord suffers no financial loss, they may not deduct for a breach.


If the property has a garden, it’s likely that your landlord added a clause to the tenancy agreement that stipulated you need to maintain it. That doesn’t mean you need to plant begonias. But you need to make sure the garden doesn’t become overgrown.

Expect to pay for or have your landlord deduct around £14-25 for every hour a gardener needs to clear the garden. It may take a full day or more, depending on the size of the garden.So maybe get your gardening gloves on and some friends to help with an overgrown garden at the end of a tenancy.

Good to know

Moving out and trying to get small tasks done, you either don’t have the time or skill to perform can be stressful.Zhappy is a platform that covers a whole range of services for tenants moving in and out of properties. They can cover minor plumbing, handyman and painting jobs. You can also hire independent freelancers to clean, garden, and help you move. Post your task and budget on the platform and available freelancers will get in touch with you.

What your landlord cannot deduct for – Wear and Tear

If you were to live in a property for five years, it’s natural that things fade, wear out, stop working, and become old. Your landlord may not deduct from your deposit for carpets, upholstery, and curtains that are worn.

It’s also likely that cheap white goods such as kettles and toasters have long since given up. Inexpensive microwaves, fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, that weren’t new before you moved in are also likely to die on you. It’s unlikely you called up your landlord when the toaster broke. But it’s not your fault. And should your landlord deduct for replacements when you end your tenancy, you can dispute this.

By all means, give the walls a wash down. But it’s also to be expected that the walls may have small scuffs after a longer tenancy. You are not responsible for giving the walls a fresh lick of paint. Painting a whole house can be a costly business and if your landlord deducts this from your deposit, you should definitely resist.

How to get your deposit back

After your tenancy ends, request your deposit back from your landlord. Your landlord has ten days to return your deposit or get in touch with you about any deductions. If your landlord deducts for anything, they must detail what they are deducting for. If you agree, then fine. But if not, then begin by discussing the matter with your landlord in a calm and professional manner. In the meantime, the landlord must return the undisputed part of your deposit. The TDP scheme is an excellent resource for tenants. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord, then you can request the alternative dispute resolution or ADR.

This is an entirely free service. An independent adjudicator who is an expert in tenancy law will review the case. Ensuring that you documented evidence of the property when you moved in, will give you a better chance of recovering your deposit. He or she will use whatever evidence there is to review the somewhat grey area of wear and tear.

Good to know

You can check out some previous ADR rulings which can serve as a helpful guide if you are heading for a dispute.

Tenancy Security Deposit Checklist: Important things to remember

By leaving a property in good order will not only allow you to recover your deposit but also gather favourable references from landlords.

Here’s a checklist to make sure you get what’s rightfully yours.

  • Make an inventory – It may seem like a tiresome and rather pedantic task, but documenting the condition of the property can provide vital evidence for an ADR adjudicator.
  • Pay outstanding bills and rent.
  • Take documented evidence of meter readings before leaving.
  • Cover minor repairs such as broken light bulbs and holes in the walls.
  • Perform an end-of-tenancy either yourself if you have the stamina or call in a professional.
  • Make sure the garden is of the standard it was when you moved in.
  • Deodorise tobacco and pet odours.
  • Clear out all rubbish and everything of yours.
  • Your landlord has ten days to return your deposit or get in touch with you.
  • Understand what is reasonable wear and tear, and what is damage.
  • In the event of a dispute, remaining calm and reasonable is always the best way.
  • Should you dispute what the landlords deducts, you can get free help from the ADR. Provide all your evidence in an organized manner. The ADR decision is final and may not be challenged.


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