Rental deposits can be hard to come by, so doing all you can to ensure that you get yours back at the end of your tenancy is essential, but how do you go about it? This post will point you in the right direction.

Top 5 reasons why landlords don’t return deposits

In order to ensure that you get your rental deposit back, it's important to know some of the key reasons why landlords choose to hold on to deposits once tenancies come to an end. Being aware of the common grievances stated by landlords will help you avoid any rental deposit pitfalls and put you in a better position to the whole of your deposit returned to you. 

The top 5 reasons why landlords don't return deposits are:

  • Not keeping the property clean
  • Not maintaining the property to a sufficient standard
  • Direct damage to the property and/or its contents
  • Rent being due after the tenancy completes
  • Indirect damage due to lack of maintenance or carelessness


As you can see, most of these things are wholly avoidable and really shouldn't be a problem. However, in order to ensure that you get your rental security deposit back when you move on it is important not to leave things until the last minute. Having a checklist of things to keep an eye on will help, and that's exactly what we've got for you next.

Getting your rental deposit back: Dos and don'ts

Giving your landlord no reason to hold on to your money is the quickest way to ensure that your rental deposit gets returned. Thankfully, this isn't as difficult as it sounds, but you do need to keep on top of things.

Here are a few of the most important things you can do to give your landlord no reason to keep your security deposit:

Clean up

This is an obvious one, but it's worth making a point of as, according to ARLA Propertymark, just short of 90% of agents said that insufficient cleanliness had caused landlords to withhold tenant's deposits.

So, what can you do? Well, keep on top of things is the number one piece of advice. Don't leave things for weeks on end. Make cleaning part of your week. 

Regular vacuuming and dusting (once or twice a week) will go a long way and it doesn't take a minute. Never-ending cleaning sessions are the result of neglect, so keep things tidy from day one. 

Do your bit

Many tenants fall foul of deposit disputes simply because they do not know their responsibilities. As someone who is living in rented accommodation, you are expected to live in a tenant-like manner (click the link for full description). 

In short, this means that you have a responsibility to perform certain maintenance tasks around the property. Things such as changing light bulbs and looking after the garden are down to you, and failing to perform these odd jobs can easily result in your landlord keeping your rental deposit, so don't get caught out.

Make good

While we'd always advise against doing such things in the first place, it's important to repair any damage you may have caused during your tenancy. The definition of damage, however, can cause issues over deposits being returned as something as small as a nail hole can be regarded as damage by a landlord. 

So, what do you do? The easiest thing is to avoid causing such damage in the first place, but if this isn't possible it is absolutely vital you return the property in exactly the same state as it was left in.

Fill in holes, make repairs, and do everything you can to ensure the property is handed back to the landlord in the same condition. Taking photos when you first take on a rental property will help give you a baseline to work towards.

Stay warm and well-aired

Another fast way to lose your deposit is to let condensation build up in your rented property. Thankfully, this is easily avoided providing you remember two things: heat and ventilation.

Keeping your home at a constant temperature during the winter months will help reduce the amount of condensation dramatically, as will regular ventilation.

If the windows in your rented accommodation have trickle vents be sure to leave them open. If not, open the windows daily to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the home and let moist air to escape.

Remember, if you can see condensation on the windows, it's highly likely you'll have condensation elsewhere. Be proactive to ensure there's no build up of mould or damage to the window frames that could jeopardise your rental deposit.

Be honest

While we'd all rather avoid them, accidents do's what you do after they happen that can make all the difference.

Should something go awry in your rented accommodation, be honest about it. Call your letting agent or landlord and tell them what the situation is straight away. Doing so will give them options and remove the infuriating moment when they discover something that has been hidden from them.

Good letting agents are there for both you and the landlord, so being upfront about any damage is always the best policy. Even if you don't have a letting agent you can report things to, the vast majority of landlords are good honest people who will understand that these things happen from time to time, so pick up the phone and talk things through.

Stay on top of your finances

Another huge reason for rental deposits being withheld is unpaid rent. All arrears must be cleared before the deposit can be returned, so make sure you keep check of your finances throughout the life of the tenancy.

Should you fall into financial difficulty, talk to your landlord. Again, being honest about your circumstances will go a long way, so be upfront.

Click here for more info on paying your rent and dealing with rent arrears.

Doable, right?

Getting your rental deposit back really shouldn't be a problem, especially if you stick to the above guidelines and return the property in exactly the same state as you entered it. 

Be sure to return the keys and give your landlord your forwarding address as well once your tenancy runs its course and your deposit will be heading its way back to your bank account in no time at all.


If you're looking to rent in Wanstead, Buckhurst Hill, or any of their surrounding areas, give us a call on 020 8989 2091 today or check out our latest properties via our homepage.

dos and donts to get your rental security deposit back