3. What will a letting agent do?
Since April 2007 any deposit taken from a tenant on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy must be protected in one of the three deposit protection schemes.
Your landlord could face penalties if they don't protect your deposit or give you the Prescribed Information within the required time. It could also mean it is more difficult for the landlord to end your tenancy.
Deductions your landlord could make from your deposit
Your landlord could make deductions from your deposit for:
- Damaged to and/or missing property
- Cleaning costs
- Unpaid rent
Your tenancy agreement should state what your landlord could make deductions for at the end of the tenancy.
Damaged or missing items
You should have a detailed inventory at the start of the tenancy which lists all the fixtures and fittings within the property and their condition. This should include photographs so that if you do have a dispute with your landlord these can be used as evidence.
When you leave a property it should be in the same condition as when you moved in allowing for wear and tear.
It is always recommended that if you clean the property at the end of a tenancy and that you take photos so that you can prove the condition of the property when you left.
If you have rent arrears are more than the value of your deposit the landlord could take you to court for the rest of the money.
Dispute resolution service
Each of the deposit protection schemes have an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service that you can use if you have a dispute with your landlord about how much deposit is being returned to you.
If have an assured shorthold tenancy and your landlord refuses to return all or some of your deposit you can choose to take court action. This should always be a last resort and you should always attempt to settle the issue with the landlord directly.
What will a letting agent do?
Most landlords want a credit check completed on new tenants to show that they can afford the rent.
The landlord or agent may request details of where you have lived for the past few years and contact details of your previous landlords.
Once the checks have been completed and the agent or landlord agrees to you renting the property it is likely that you will need to pay a tenancy deposit. This is usually equivalent to a month to two month’s rent.
Rent in advance
Rent in advance is the payment of rent at the start of the tenancy for the month ahead. If you have a poor credit record the landlord or agent may ask you to pay more than a month’s rent in advance.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Within 30 days of receiving your tenancy deposit your landlord/agent is legally required to:
- Protect your deposit with one of the three government-backed schemes
- Provide you with information about the scheme used (known as prescribed information)
The deposit protection schemes are designed to keep your deposit safe and make sure you get back what you are entitled to at the end of the tenancy.
More information is available in the Tenants Handbook.