Cleaning is Still the #1 Cause of Deposit Disputes

Are you worried about losing your deposit at the end of your lease? According to a new analysis by ARLA Propertymark, the UK’s foremost professional body for letting agents, cleanliness is by far the most common reason for deposit-related disputes between tenants and landlords.

Keeping your home or apartment clean and damage-free, it seems, usually makes the process of receiving your security deposit easier.

However, many tenants make the mistake of leaving their rented property in poor condition — a cost that’s often picked up by the landlord. As a result, an estimated 59% of tenants lose some or all of their deposit when departing a rental property at the end of their lease agreement.

Below, we’ve covered some of the most common reasons for deposit disputes between tenants and landlords — ranging from cleanliness to property damage — to help you, as a tenant, receive a larger share of your deposit as your rental contract comes to an end.

Cleaning Issues

Cleaning issues are the most common reason for tenants to lose part of all of their deposit, with almost 90% of letting agents reporting cleanliness as the primary cause of deposit issues.

In most cases, cleaning-related issues boil down to the tenants leaving the property in a state in which it can’t be rented out to a new tenant without extensive cleaning. In response, the landlord is forced to hire a professional cleaner, usually passing the cost of cleaning on to the tenant.

One reason for this dispute is the difference in expectations between tenants and landlords. For the most part, tenants expect a normal level of cleanliness, while landlords often expect that the home or apartment will be cleaned to a professional level before the tenant moves out.

The key to getting your deposit back? Use a professional end of tenancy cleaning service when your lease comes to an end, and take before/after photos of your property to ensure you have a record of its condition on move-in and move-out day to show to your landlord.

Poor/No Maintenance

Maintenance issues are another common reason for tenants to lose their deposit, either in part or in full. Often, a simple maintenance issue like an overgrown garden or damaged fixtures can be all it takes for a landlord to start deducting fees from your security deposit.

As a tenant, you’re expected and obligated to carry out general house maintenance under the terms of your contract. In short, keep the property well maintained and in good condition for a higher likelihood of receiving your full deposit back once you move out.

Just like for cleanliness, it’s worth taking before/after photos when you move in and out to show your landlord that you’ve lived up to your end of the deal.

Home/Contents Damage

Finally, the third reason for a deposit to go unreturned (or only partially returned) is damage to a property and/or its contents.

Most of the time, property damage is fairly minor. However, the paintings you hung on the living room wall (complete with nail holes and discoloured paint behind the painting) come at a cost to the landlord, making it fair that they deduct from your deposit to repair the damage.

The best approach to this problem is simple: photograph your property before you move in and when you move out, and always discuss modifications with your landlord. You’ll be surprised to learn how many landlords are okay with minor decorating, provided there’s no lasting damage.