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24th January 2019

The top reasons that tenants lose their deposit

tenancy depositsIt's often cited as the reason why tenants struggle to rent. Saving for a rental deposit of typically up to six weeks' rent while also paying a month's rent upfront can be financially crippling.

So it's important to avoid stepping even further into the red when you move from one rented home to another. Everyone wants to try and make sure they get back their deposit when they leave a property.

Tenancy deposits are there to protect landlords in the event of unpaid rent or damage to their property. Most tenants will get their full deposit back, but there are sometimes instances where the landlord may need to keep part of it to cover various costs.

Here are the most common reasons why tenants don’t get their deposits back.

1. Keep it clean

The main reason tenants don’t get their full deposits back is because they leave the property dirty or messy. In most instances, properties are professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, so while you can clean it yourself when you vacate the property, and aren’t required to use a cleaning company, landlords expect the same level of cleanliness as documented in the inventory at the start of the agreement. To avoid any disputes, you should take photos at the start and end of the tenancy to use as evidence.

2. Lack of maintenance

Tenants are expected to maintain the property they’re renting; which includes keeping gardens in the same state they were in when you moved in. However, lack of maintenance is another major reason why deposits can often be held back.

3. Direct damage to the property and its contents

When you’re renting a property, it’s tempting to stick your own photos on the wall, or hang your own pictures, but direct damage like this is another top reason why tenants don’t get their full deposits back. Plain walls can be boring, but using white tac can avoid greasy marks, or even just asking your landlord if you can hang a few pictures in sensible places will likely avoid deposit deductions.

4. Unpaid rent

Deposits cannot be returned until all rent arrears are paid but the fourth most common reason why they aren’t returned is unpaid rent. By setting up a standing order at the start of a tenancy, you can ensure your rent is always on time, which will save you from issues when you leave the property.


When you’re leaving a property you’ve been renting, the general rule is to leave it as you found it. Make sure you haven’t left any personal belongings behind, and that the property is clean and tidy for the next tenants. You should report any damaged items that occur during the tenancy, so that when you leave, it doesn’t come as a shock.