If you are vacating rented premises anywhere in the UK, you might be wondering how long a landlord can hold deposits after tenancy ends. This is an important question because getting your tenancy deposit back can play a crucial role in balancing your budget and help you secure another rental property in time.
Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDP)
One crucial fact you should be aware of is the way security deposits are regulated under British law. Anywhere in the United Kingdom, landlords are required to put the money you give them as a security deposit into a special fund designed as a tenancy deposit protection. These funds commonly go by the name of Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes. Their purpose is to guarantee that the deposit money is used only for their intended purposes – to cover any expenses that the landlord might have to make in case the tenant breaches their contract. By using tenancy deposit services, property owners enter an agreement not to spend this money in any other way, and return the funds to their tenants once they move out.
So, the question arises, when is your landlord expected to return your money once you stop using their property? Even though certain letting agents guarantee the immediate return of your money, you should consider the fact that like anything else related to TDP schemes, there are certain rules and regulations that dictate the schedule for the return. The most important rule is that your landlord should return the money within 10 days after you have vacated the premises. That is 10 calendar, not work days. In case the landlord doesn’t meet that deadline, they are required by law to provide a written explanation of the reasons they are holding the funds.
When Can Landlords Hold Tenancy Deposits
The deposit funds are designed to protect certain rights of the landlords as well. They play the role of an insurance scheme for the property owner. Because of this, there are certain situations in which the landlord can exercise their right and not return the money. There are three main reasons for such an action:
- The tenant has outstanding bills accumulated on the property, such as utility bills.
- The tenant has back-rent to pay.
- There is damage on the property that goes beyond the wear and tear that is to be expected for the duration of the tenancy.
In addition to these three reasons, there might be other specific situations in which the landlord holds the deposit and still is within their rights as described by the law. Remember that these reasons should always be explicitly described in your tenancy agreement, so make sure to read the contract you signed with the landlord thoroughly prior to moving out of their house or apartment. One example of such a special clause would be that you will be required to have a licensed professional cleaning company carry out an end-of-tenancy cleaning on the premises once you move your possessions out before your landlord returns your tenancy deposit.
What Landlords Can Hold Money For
Situations in which your landlord can’t either deduct or fully hold your deposit money include:
- Property damage that occurred prior to you moving into the rental property.
- Repairing normal wear and tear, including worn carpets and upholstery, as well as fainted paint.
- Cleaning fees they incur on the property after you moved out, in case you left it in the same condition you found it when you moved in.
Because of this, it is highly advisable that you snap photos of the condition of the rented property when you are moving into it, as well as the day you are moving out. These will be admitted as evidence should you need to take action to get a deposit refund.
What if the landlord doesn’t return the money from the custodial scheme without a reason?
If you haven’t breached your tenancy agreement but your landlord continues holding your tenancy funds beyond the 10-day period defined under the country’s tenancy laws, you will be perfectly within your right to seek legal advice and pursue legal action against your already former landlord. It is best to try to communicate your concerns with the landlord first. Call the letting agent that works with them as well. If that fails, call the tenancy deposit scheme and explain the situation. You can request your deposit refund directly from them and the people working there will advise you on the appropriate next steps to take. In rare cases, you will need to go to court.