The majority of people who’ve rented a property in the UK in the past five years have failed to get their full deposit back after vacating, new research has found.
Some 52% of deposits were fully or partially withheld over the past five years, equivalent to more than 400,000 deposits per year and overall 80% of tenants had some degree of trouble getting their deposit back.
The survey by London removals company Kiwi Movers also found that cleaning and minor repairs are the most common reasons for withheld deposits, however, 28% of respondents said their landlord delayed returning their deposit despite not making any deductions.
Of those who said they experienced difficulties with their landlord when it came to the return of the deposit, 6% lost their entire deposit, the equivalent to 252,000 deposits being fully withheld over the past five years, and 46% lost part of their deposit.
Some 20% said they got their full deposit back without any problems while 28% said they managed to get their deposit back in full only after a dispute with the landlord or letting agency.
London is the deposit dispute hotspot, with residents in the capital almost twice as likely (11%) as the survey average (6%) to lose their whole deposit, while tenants aged between 18 and 24 living with friends, as opposed to living with a partner or spouse, living alone or with people they didn’t know prior to moving in, are most likely to lose their full deposit.
‘We’ve seen an increase in customers hiring professional cleaners before checking out of a rented property. It seems to be the only way to counter what they see as the inevitable attempts to withhold part of their deposit,’ said Kiwi Movers director Regan McMillan.
‘Our customers tell us they feel vulnerable unless they have paperwork to prove that they left the property in an acceptable state. Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about having your deposit unfairly withheld,’ he added.
Amy Williams, a digital producer from Southampton took her London landlord to court and won after he withheld her deposit. ‘It was only a six month contract and the landlord tried to make us pay for problems that were in the flat when we moved in,’ she explained.
‘The court said it was wear and tear, ordered the landlord to return our deposit and told him that wear and tear was something he’d have to get used to. The landlord also choose to hold the court session not in London but on the south coast. But luckily because we won he had to pay for our train tickets too,’ she added.
Daniel Zambas, a Manchester based musician, also took successful legal action against a former landlord. ‘The agent told us the landlord wasn’t going to return our deposit. We successfully challenged this and once we’d had our money returned, we found out that the landlord was a former high ranking police official who’d been sacked for corruption,’ he said.