The leaving process
You will need to let your landlord know in advance if you want to end your tenancy - this is called giving notice.
You have to give notice in the correct way - if you don’t, you might have to pay rent even after you’ve moved out.
When and how much notice you give will depend on the type of tenancy you have.
If you can't give the right amount of notice you might be able to agree with your landlord to end your tenancy early. This is called 'surrendering your tenancy'.
During checkout, your landlord will be inspecting the property for any damage, its overall condition, and its cleanliness. You'll have a better chance of getting all or most of your deposit back if you leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in.
It's a good idea to get evidence of the condition of the property when you leave in case you and your landlord disagree on how much deposit you should get back.
If possible, you should:
- take photos of the property to show how it was when you left
- get a check-out inventory and ask your landlord to sign it - this could include things like the condition of carpets and walls
Landlords will cross-reference the previous inventory (taken when you moved in) against the current one to see if the condition of the property has changed. If there are any changes, or any dilapidations, then they’ll note these against the inventory.
Money your landlord might take from your deposit
You might not get the full amount of your deposit back if, for example:
- you owe rent
- you've damaged the property - this could be something like a spill on the carpet or a mark on the wall where you've hung a picture
- you've lost or broken some items from the inventory, like some cutlery or mugs
Money your landlord shouldn't take from your deposit
Your landlord shouldn't take money from your deposit, for example, to:
- replace a worn carpet with a new one if it's worn out gradually over time
- fix any damage caused by a repair they didn't do when they should have, for example a leak you told them about that got worse and damaged the floor
- decorate a whole room if there are a few scuff marks on a wall that have appeared while you've lived in the property
Your landlord can't take money from your deposit for 'reasonable wear and tear' - this means things that would gradually get worse or need replacing over time, for example paintwork, or a piece of furniture.
The deductions process
If your landlord does wish to make any deductions, then this is the point that they will tell you. They should tell you what they are deducting and their reason for deducting this amount. At this point, you can either accept their conclusions, reject it and appeal, or come to a mutual agreement. If you either accept or come to an agreement, then this can be noted on the signed and dated form.
Challenging your landlord
If you do dispute the return of your deposit, then your tenancy deposit protection scheme will offer a free dispute resolution service, but both you and your landlord will have to agree to it. You’ll then both be asked to offer evidence, and the decision they make about your deposit is final.
If you’re renting a room in your landlord’s house and they also live in the property, they are not legally required to protect tenants’ deposit with one of the government-approved schemes. If this is the case and you want to dispute the return of your deposit, consult Citizens Advice Bromley on the issue here or call them on 0300 3309 039.