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This is the first in a series where we answer some frequently asked questions that we are presented with. 
The team at RSS are experts in the field of lettings and know the rules and processes, but perhaps our web visitors do not share our expertise, so we’ll share them with you instead! 

Can my landlord deduct from my deposit? 

Yes, they can. But you probably already knew that. The big questions usually begin with “What” ... “What can my landlord deduct?”, “What is wear and tear?” and “What have I done to deserve this?!”. Well, we’ll tell you. 

Why might my deposit be kept? 

It is very rare for a landlord to keep an entire deposit. Landlords have the right to deduct an amount from your initial deposit to pay for unpaid rent or damage to the property. 
You are within your rights to challenge the deductions if you think they are unreasonable.  
The landlord CANNOT deduct money from breach of the tenancy agreement if the result hasn’t cost them any money. 

Common reasons for deductions: 

- Wear and Tear 
Let’s get this one out of the way first! One of the most commonly asked questions that is rather difficult to answer is “What constitutes as wear and tear?” 
Landlords cannot charge you for reasonable amounts of wear and tear. For instance, a brand new carpet will show some signs of damage after being used for 12 months, the same goes for window frames that are peeling or damaged from the weather, you won’t get charged for that because you don’t control the wind and rain… and if you do; then I have some questions of my own! 
- Damage 
Damage to properties can be a common area of dispute. As a general rule, you should never just “accept” deductions for damage, especially if you believe they are unreasonable. Any charges should be made on a “like for like” basis. E.g. if you broke the rickety old bed that was in the property, it wouldn’t be fair for the landlord to use your money to buy a Queen-sized deluxe super-bed… if such a thing exists. 
- Missing Items 
Make sure you do not remove anything from the property without the landlord’s written permission. This includes items that are broken or unused. It’s not a hotel, where every item in your room is complimentary… The check-in report will provide the details and conditions of everything in the property at the time of moving in. This means that nothing can go “missing” but also that the landlord can only deduct the amount that matches the condition and quality of the item in question. (Disclaimer: RSS does not condone stealing from hotels). 
- Cleaning 
Cleaning: The most common reason for deductions. 
Please remember that you will only need to clean the property to the SAME standard as when you moved in… this means you can strap on your pinafore, dust off the mop and clean it yourself, or just do what I would do; hire a professional. Check your tenancy agreement as some will request that you hire a professional. However, if you feel the property is clean enough, you can dispute this. 
- Redecorating 
If you are to redecorate, please get your landlord’s written permission. Especially if it is anything drastic like painting or building a moat. If you do get a little bit creative and decorate slightly, you can get away with moving everything back to how it was when you moved in (Take pictures!). Other changes to the property should also be cleared with the landlord, such as a cat flap, removal of a gas fire, changing of a meter, changing of windows or carpet. If you make changes without consent you may lose part of your deposit. 
- Gardening 
If your thumbs are particularly green, you may be tempted to do some gardening. It is not your responsibility to make that patch of grass look like the Garden of Eden, but you should maintain it so that it is in the same state as when you moved in. Your landlord does not have to provide you with equipment like a lawnmower… so you better get some good scissors! 
- Bills and Rent 
It is possible for the landlord to deduct from your deposit if you have unpaid utilities in your name that result in the landlord losing money because bills have gone unpaid. The landlord should still only deposit the amount that is owed, so ask to see the amount before you agree to anything. 
- Unpaid Rent 
The obvious one… if you have not paid your rent, then the landlord will take tthe outstandingamount from your deposit. If you disagree with the amount owed, show your landlord proof of what you have paid and when. 
In summary, the landlord can attempt to deduct from your deposit for a number of reasons, but you have a lot of rules to protect you from being charged unfairly. When using the RSS Departure service, you will be lucky enough to have one of our advisors talk you through everything and dispute the deposit for you, if you feel you are being charged unfairly. 
If you look after the property and pay your bills, I am sure that you can sit on the floor with a smile on your face like so: 
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