The answer is a simple yes, they can. But not without reason. That’s why the lease agreement exists. To protect you or your landlord from any wrongdoings. As long as your deposit was paid after 06.04.07, your deposit is protected by a government-backed scheme. So, here are the ins and outs of deposit deduction and common disputes. 

Can Landlords Deduct From Security Deposits

Read also: Tips For Cleaning Apartment Before Moving Out.

Common Reasons for Deposit Deduction:

There are many possible reasons for deposit deductions. Here we’ve put together a list. It covers the most common reasons:

– Lack of hygiene;
– Direct damage to property;
– Indirect damage to property (due to negligence);
– Broken furniture;
– Marked walls;
Carpet stains;
– Redecoration without consent;
– Unpaid rent;
– Unpaid bills;
– Missing belongings;
– Unwanted belongings left after the return of the keys.

We think you get the picture. Your landlord cannot deduct more than you have cost them. I.e., you failed to perform an end of tenancy clean. Which, for example, costs £250. Your security deposit is £400, but your landlord cannot claim the entire sum. I don’t think any of us wants to lose £250. So it’s better to be informed that be slightly poorer!

Check out our Ultimate End of Tenancy Cleaning Checklist!

What CAN’T my Landlord Deduct From my Security Deposit?

Your landlord cannot deduct charges from your security deposit for key facilities. The tenant can’t be held accountable for all maintenance and repairs. Here is a list of examples of key facilities:

– Sink basins;
– Toilet;
– Baths and sanitary facilities;
– Boilers;
– Central heating;
– Other essential electrical appliances.

You can’t be held accountable for the maintenance and repair of the exterior or structure of the rental property:

– Drains and external pipes;
– Gutters;
– Roof;
– Ceiling;
– Walls;
– Floors;
– Foundations.

You are under no obligation to repair or maintain any of the facilities listed above. That is unless you have caused the problem.

The Fair “Wear and Tear” Factor of Deposit Deduction

This phrase talks about the natural deterioration of items and appliances around the house. This is the tricky part of deposit deduction disputes. Whether or not you will be held accountable for damage of a certain appliance or item around the house lays in the hands of the designated adjudicator. This is of course if there even is a dispute. Most landlords can be reasonable, and you can settle the matter between yourselves. But that’s not always the case. Here a few factors that will influence the decision of the matter:

– Type of item;
– Projected life span;
– Brand and make;
– Type of damage;
– Material of said item or appliance;
– Documented state in the move-in inventory.

The Inventory Report

The inventory report is crucial to settling any deduction disputes. It thoroughly documents the state of the property and its’ belongings before the tenant occupies the premises. Always make sure you attend the inventory report. If you don’t, you can’t correct any issues that may lead to an unfair deposit deduction.

If you can, make your own detailed inventory report. Here is a list of things you should include in it:

– Hygiene of entire property;
– Mould and mildew on walls or ceilings, around windows and in corners;
– Contents of each room;
– Condition and quality of the furniture;
– Condition and usability of all electrical appliances;
– The quality of all floors, tiles, wooden furniture, glass;
– Scuff marks, bends, dents and other kinds of surface damage;
– Visible damage on furniture and walls;
– Power sockets, lights and switches;
– Condition of all carpets;
– Rips, holes and tears in upholstered furniture.

You should also get high-quality photographs of questionable areas. If possible, you should get the signature of your landlord.

Documentation to Secure to Avoid Unfair Deposit Deduction:

Documents related to your tenancy are vital. Here is a shortlist of documents you need to keep and protect:

1. Copy of the tenancy agreement;
2. Proof of payment and deposit;
3. Dated prescribed information;
4. Copy of the inventory report from move-in and move-out points;
5. Dated and signed photos accompanying the inventory report;
6. Receipts from rent payments;
7. Receipts from payments of utility bills;
8. Written notices and emails with the landlord.

All of these can be proof of innocence. Be sure to keep them safe and organise them as you attain them.

Read our post on Why Do I Need End of Tenancy Cleaners and find out why professional cleaners are the better option!