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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

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I’m moving out – but how do I make sure I get my deposit back

Renting a new place and moving out of the old? Make sure you get your deposit back using these tips by Faith Archer from Much More With Less.

You’re moving into a new place and it’s time to hand over a big wad of cash – too large to waste on messy parties and the odd hole in the wall. To make sure you get your money back when you move out, follow our handy guide!

 

What is a deposit anyway?

A deposit is normally a month’s rent. It’s meant to protect the landlord if you damage the place or don’t pay the rent. You are meant to leave the property in the same state you found it, allowing for ‘fair wear and tear’.

But if the place is clean, there’s no damage and all your bills are paid, you should get your money back after you leave.

Get cleaning

If you moved somewhere sparkling and trashed the place, wave goodbye to a wodge of cash. Instead, whack on the rubber gloves and get scrubbing. Check if the contract has sneaky conditions, like forking out for professional cleaners or cleaning the windows.

Check the inventory

Way back when you moved in, you should have been given an inventory. This lists all the fixtures, fittings and furniture, and should mention any marks and damage too. Before leaving, check if anything on the inventory is missing or broken. If you don’t find, mend or replace stuff, you may get charged.

In an ideal world, you snapped photos of the place on the day you moved in, and added notes about any damage before signing the inventory. Then you can show what was already there, and wasn’t your fault. Otherwise, it’s your word against the landlord’s.

At least you can take lots of photos now, to show how you left the place. Don’t forget pics of the gas, electricity and any water meters, to avoid arguments about how much you used.

Put it in writing

When you move out, write or email the landlord to ask for your deposit back. If you deal with a lettings agent, contact them instead. Hopefully the nice landlord will just give you all your money back. Happy days.

 

Get help

What? The landlord hasn’t given all your deposit back? They should tell you why, and if they don’t, you can ask them.

If they’ve got good reasons, tough luck. You should get the remains of your deposit back within 10 days of agreeing the amount.

But if you don’t agree how much they’ve taken or why, you can get help.

If you signed an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’, your landlord can’t just pocket your deposit. Instead, the landlord or lettings agent must put the money in a tenancy protection scheme (TPS). Plus, they’re meant to tell you within 30 days of moving in which TPS they are using.

If not, your landlord can be ordered to pay you up to three times the deposit. Kerching.

In England and Wales, there are three registered schemes: the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, MyDeposits and Deposit Protection Service.

Just remember that if you’re a lodger renting a room in someone’s house, or living in student halls, they don’t have to use a deposit scheme.

Use the resolution service

So if there is a disagreement about your deposit, contact the deposit scheme that holds your money. You can use the scheme’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service for free.

The ADR will ask for details from you and your landlord before deciding how much of your deposit you should get back. This is where any photos you took, copies of the inventory and any letters asking your landlord to fix stuff will come in handy. You both have to accept their decision, even if you don’t like it. Get a move on though, because you only have three months after moving out to claim.

Play hardball

If your landlord refuses to use the dispute resolution service, threaten to take them to the small claims court. That might be enough to make them give your deposit back without actually going to court.

Need more information? Check out…

Shelter and Citizens Advice for more where your deposit is protected and how to take your landlord to court.

Our previous post by expert blogger Faith Archer on renting for the first time. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Our advice if you’re still struggling to pay your rent.

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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

Launch Chat

Chat to the Money Advice Service
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm.