What landlords can and can’t deduct from a deposit

  • Can you make deposit deductions because of faded curtains? What about scuffs to paintwork or cleaning up after pets?

As Buckshaw Village’s leading letting agents, we get asked questions like this all the time. In fact, disputes over deposits – and what can be reasonably deducted at the end of a tenancy – can be a key cause of communication breakdown between landlords and tenants.

Not that it has to be a source of contention. In fact, we find that finding the right of tenant (careful, conscientious, responsible) from the very beginning is ultimately the best way to protect your property from damage and neglect. However, we accept that there can be times when problems arise. Therefore, we’ve put together our advice on what to do if you need to make a deduction from a deposit and what justifies deposit deductions.

Make an inventory

If clients take up our fully managed service, we’ll make a careful inventory at the start of every tenancy and we’d advise any prospective private landlord to do the same. This document is vital. It means that everyone is aware of what furniture or fittings are included in the property, as well as the condition of the walls, carpets and paintwork. It will be the list that is referred to in the event of any dispute, as a tenant must leave the property in the same state it was when they moved in, allowing for normal wear and tear.

What is normal wear and tear?

We find that this issue can cause the most confusion among private landlords and tenants. Normal wear and tear can include:

  • Minor scuffs to paintwork
  • Faded curtains
  • Worn carpets

However, landlords can take money off the deposit for damage. Examples of damage might include:

  • Paint or nail varnish spills on floor coverings or burn holes
  • Holes in the wall and damage to plaster-work

What else can landlords make deposit deductions for?

Landlords can also make deductions for unpaid rent, missing items and cleaning costs. Again, this is where the all-important inventory will prove to be invaluable.
If replacing missing items, this must be done on a like-for-like basis. A landlord can also deduct money for cleaning costs or damage associated with keeping a pet.

What if your tenant objects to the deposit deductions?

A landlord or letting agent should write to the tenant to explain if any deductions are made, and why. Assured shorthold tenants must have the protection of a tenancy deposit scheme, which will in turn run a free alternative dispute resolution service which both parties can use in the event of a problem.
Here at Redrose, we use the My deposits scheme, which you can read more about here.

We’re the leading letting agents in Buckshaw Village and offer a fully-managed service to landlords. We’re committed to finding the very best tenants to protect and look after your property. We can offer advice to make sure you make the most of renting out a home, guiding your through the whole process from start to finish.


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