How do deposits work?

A deposit is paid on signing of the lease and is often 1 month’s rent, although it can be more. If (and only if) the tenant has fulfilled all the terms of the lease, the deposit is returned to him in full. The lease should state the timeframe within which the landlord has to return the deposit (or balance of deposit, see below) at the end of the tenancy. Typically this might be 2 weeks or a month.

The deposit is taken and held by the landlord to protect him and his property if problems arise with the tenancy, or if he has to make repairs, pay for cleaning, repairs or other unexpected costs at the end of a tenancy caused by the tenant. This does not include normal wear and tear, which would be the responsibility of the landlord.

If a landlord finds he has such bills to pay he should produce a list of the problems and what they have cost him, with receipts where applicable, and present it to the leaving tenant along with the balance of the deposit. If his costs have been more than the deposit then he can bill the tenant for the outstanding amount.

A good quality inventory at the start of the tenancy along with a tenant taking care of the landlord’s property and returning it to him in the same condition should result in the return of the deposit in full.