Once tenants have moved out of a property, it’s over to their letting agent to take care of the deposit refund process. In this blog, we break down the steps involved so that tenants know what to expect.
The letting agent will inspect the property, usually within 1-2 working days of the tenancy coming to an end. During the inspection the condition of the property will be carefully compared to the inventory which was completed and agreed before the tenants moved in at the beginning of the tenancy. This includes checking every item is still there and checking the items’ condition. The agent will also check the walls, carpets, floorboards, lamp shades, inside of the fridge, oven and cupboards and everywhere else in between to assess if they have been maintained and that the property has been vacated in a tenantable condition for the next tenants to enjoy.
An inspection report is written up on the back of the checkout and sent to the landlord and the tenant. This report highlights anything that is broken, damaged, unclean or missing.
The letting agent will organise any repairs required. This will normally delay the deposit refund as it takes time for contractors to carry out any works and for invoices to be received before the deposit refund can be initiated.
Wear and Tear
All fixtures, fittings and furnishings have a lifespan and will naturally deteriorate over time; this is wear and tear. Landlords should expect to replace things over time and tenants are not responsible for the cost of these repairs or replacements. If a letting agent inspects a property and discovers a broken bed then they should consider the age of the bed and assess whether it has deteriorated through fair wear and tear or whether it has been damaged before it’s natural end of use. As a general rule, items of furnishing are expected to last 7 years and so if the bed was damaged beyond repair and is only 3 years old then it’s deemed that this is beyond reasonable wear and tear and so the tenant is responsible for the cost of its replacement. As an example; if a bed was broken beyond repair the tenant would be charged the cost of the bed (say £350) less the 3 years of natural wear and tear that occurred prior to the damage (£350 less 3 years of wear and tear at £50/year) and so a deduction of £200 is likely to be made from the tenant’s deposit.
Initiating the deposit refund process with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Once all repairs or replacements have been taken care of by the letting agent, they will initiative the deposit refund via the Tenancy Deposit Scheme where the deposit is lodged. The agent will submit a case for any deductions they deem to be required. In this case the agent must upload all evidence including photos (before and after), invoices and any other evidence they have to provide a case for making the deduction. Tenants will receive an email from the TDS reporting their findings and giving the tenants an opportunity to submit a counter-case (if they feel the proposed deductions are unfair) or to confirm if they are happy to accept the deposit refund amount proposed. If tenants contest the amount then the TDS will look over everything again before making a final assessment and reporting back to both parties before transferring amounts back to each party.
Normally the deposit refund process should take no more than 1-2 weeks to complete but if extensive remedial works or replacements are needed or if the deposit refund amount is disputed then this can drag out for longer.
Fair & Transparent Process
The TDS provider plays an important role in the process and, brilliantly, they are an independent and objective 3rd party. They are not on the side of the landlord, the agent or the tenant and their role is to ensure that whatever happens at the end of the tenancy relating to the tenants’ deposit, it is fair and transparent. This helps avoid unnecessary stress or tension at the end of a tenancy in the result of a deduction from the tenants’ deposit.
If you have any questions about the deposit refund process or want to know more, please get in touch.