(Un)Cleanliness the Main Reason for Tenancy Deposit Disputes

May 16, 2018

Report by The Property Redness Scheme shows that getting tenancy deposit back is anything but easy. It also shows that deposit disputes have been on the rise, increasing for as much as 40% in just one year. But why? A study by the ARLA Propertymark suggests that it could be related to (un)cleanliness of the property.

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The ARLA: 9 out of 10 Tenants Who Fail to Get Their Deposit Back Do So for Not Returning the Property Clean

The main purpose of tenancy deposits is for the landlords to protect their properties from damage ‘beyond normal wear and tear’. But it is also supposed to ensure that the property is returned clean. For majority of tenants, this is motivation enough and according to the ARLA Propertymark, most tenants do get their full deposit back. However, it is not that uncommon for the landlords to keep a part or the entire deposit, most often as a compensation for damage. But they may also take money from the deposit to cover for the cost of professional end of tenancy cleaning. According to the ARLA, 9 out of 10 tenants who fail to get their deposit back do so for not returning the property clean.

Anything Less than Professional Level of Cleanliness Unacceptable for Landlords

Unless specifically stipulated in tenancy agreement, landlords cannot force their tenants to have the property cleaned by professional cleaners when leaving. But they can require the same level of cleanliness as at the start of tenancy. And since most properties are professionally cleaned before a new tenant moves in, landlords can require professional grade of cleanliness. Again, this doesn’t mean tenants must have the property professionally cleaned when leaving but unless done by the professionals, the landlord may keep a part or even the entire deposit based on the (un)cleanliness argument. This is because what is considered clean by the tenant may not be considered clean by the landlord.

Professional End of Tenancy Cleaning One of the Easiest Ways to Get Full or Most of the Deposit Back

To get full or most of the deposit back, it is of utmost importance to return the property in the same condition as at the start of tenancy with the exception of ‘reasonable wear and tear’. But it is important to note that broken pieces of furniture or stain on the carpet for instance don’t qualify as ‘reasonable wear and tear’. If you have caused damage to the property, the landlord can take money from the deposit to cover the costs of repair or replacement.

The landlord can also take money from the deposit for professional cleaning if the property was insufficiently clean when leaving. But if done by a professional company specialising in end of tenancy cleaning, the landlord cannot use the (un)cleanliness argument to take money from the deposit. If they are unhappy with the level of cleanliness, it is the responsibility of the cleaning company to re-clean to the level expected by the landlord.

Can’t Agree with the Landlord on the Deposit Return?

If you think the landlord wants to take too much money from your deposit or shouldn’t take any at all, you can raise a dispute with one of the government approved tenancy deposit schemes (TPD). In England and Wales, these include MyDeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme and Deposit Protection Service. Until the dispute is resolved, they will protect your deposit.