Legal Q&A:can our nasty landlord keep our deposit?

We are worried that our landlord will be difficult regarding our deposit and may not return it when we leave at the end of summer. Can he keep it and what should we do?

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Question: We are students renting a three-bedroom furnished house for this academic year. Our landlord has been quite horrible to us. He refused to repair the leaking shower, the boiler doesn’t heat water properly, the garden fence has blown down, there is damp in the sitting room… and more. 

Despite all this we have genuinely tried to keep the place tidy. We are now worried that our landlord will be difficult regarding our deposit and may not return it when we leave at the end of summer. What should happen about our deposit?

Answer: At the beginning of your tenancy, assuming that you rented the house on an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord or his letting agent should have placed your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it.

When your tenancy ends, your landlord should return your deposit within 10 days of you and he agreeing on how much of the total sum should be returned to you. Provided that you have not damaged the house and you have not breached any of the terms of the assured shorthold tenancy and you have paid your rent, then you should be entitled to the return of your deposit.

If you disagree with your landlord over the return of your deposit, the money will remain in the tenancy deposit scheme until the situation is resolved. You could use the free dispute resolution service offered by the scheme, provided you and your landlord agree to do so.  

If, however, your landlord has not used a tenancy deposit scheme, you can apply to your local county court for an order for him to repay the money either to you, or into a tenancy deposit scheme account.

What’s your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email  or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey.

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