New research by Slater + Gordon shows the level of on-going battles between landlord and tenant over their security deposit with just 41% of tenants receiving their full deposit back. Incredibly, 76% said they thought the process was unfair with nearly three-quarters of tenants feeling like they had to fight their landlord to get any of the deposit back.
Four in ten tenants received none of their deposit back when leaving the property, however, 70% of landlords believe that their tenants caused more damage than their deposit can cover with the average UK tenants paying their landlord a security deposit of £549.
However, seven in ten landlords say that their tenants have caused more damage than their security deposit can cover.
The most common reasons landlords and letting agencies gave for refusing to hand back a deposit were:
- stains on the carpet (58%)
- chipped paint and damaged wall paper (54%)
- broken or damaged furniture (45%)
- broken or damaged windows (31%)
Samantha Blackburn, property lawyer from Slater + Gordon said: “Security deposit disputes between landlord and tenant are a common problem and something we are seeing our clients experience more and more. If tenants are respectful of the property and leave it in the same condition as when they moved in they can reasonably expect to get their full deposit back.”
“We advise tenants to take photos of the property on arrival and keep a detailed inventory throughout their stay, making note of any damage, alerting your landlord to it at the time.”
“Landlords should do the same and make sure that what they are charging their tenants is an accurate security deposit to reflect any damage that might occur during the tenancy.”
This issue is part of a larger on going contention between landlords and tenants and how they go about the letting process. Around one in five of respondents said they had never even bothered to read the contract before signing it with more than seven in ten landlords saying they have fallen out with their tenant over money.
Almost half said they fell out with tenants over money regarding:
- cleaning bills (48%)
- replacing broken or damaged goods in the property (48%)
- breaking fixtures (46%)
- subletting (14%)
Almost four out of five landlords said they wished they had asked for bigger deposits from their tenants after damage to their property wasn’t covered – including damage to the carpets, walls, appliances and furniture. Landlords also admitted to rarely liaising with their tenants, with 24% saying they only spoke to their tenants once every three months.
More than two in ten tenants claimed that not receiving their full deposit back caused fall outs with their house mate and 26% said they were unable to afford the deposit for their next property.
With the value of tenancy deposits on the rise and the amount of money involved it is clear that an independent professional inventory with high quality evidence is essential to show the condition of the property and its contents at the start and the end of the tenancy.
You can read more about this from Slater + Gordon.