Returning the Deposit
You must return your tenant's deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much they will get back.
If you’re in a dispute with your tenant, the deposit will be protected in the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme until the issue is sorted out.
You can usually make certain deductions from your tenant's deposit after they leave the rented home.
Landlords can usually deduct money from a deposit to cover:
- unpaid rent
- damage to the property
- missing items
- cleaning costs
What you can deduct money for must be set out in the tenancy agreement or a separate document you both signed. You can make deductions for items that aren't spelt out if this includes wording such as 'deductions from your deposit can be made for breaches of your tenancy agreement'.
You must tell the tenant what any deductions are for and how much for each item. You must then return what's left to them.
For more information, see Shelter's article here.
Fair Wear and Tear
Wear and tear is a topic that is open to interpretation. Ultimately, as a landlord, your aim is firstly to minimise the level of wear and tear in your properties and secondly to ensure that you have covered all bases in the unlikely event of a dispute with your tenant over the return of the deposit.
The National Landlords Association have compiled a guide (available here) to give landlords some indication and examples to consider when checking out their tenants.
The tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme will offer a free dispute resolution service if your tenant disagrees with you about how much deposit should be returned.
You don’t have to use the service but, if you do, both you and the tenant have to agree to it. You’ll both be asked to provide evidence, and the decision made about your deposit will be final.