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Tenancy Deposit Deductions

The money a landlord can deduct from the deposit paid by a tenant

Every tenant leaves eventually. When they do, you hope it will be a painless parting of the ways with you returning their deposit as you prepare to welcome your new tenants.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen and, for one reason or another, you may feel you need to withhold some, or even all, of the tenancy deposit.

Of course, no landlord wants to enter a dispute with a tenant but sometimes they are unavoidable and you will be justified in your decision to withhold the deposit.

However, you do need to be on secure ground as the aggrieved tenant can challenge any deductions you claim if they believe you are have acted unreasonably. If the adjudicator agrees with the tenant they will return the disputed amount to them.

So what tenancy deposit deductions can you make at the end of a lease?

Cleaning expenses

By far the most common deduction from a tenancy deposit. As well as the one most disputed by tenants.

Cleanliness is mostly subjective. While the tenant may think the property is clean you could have the opposite opinion. Remember, the tenant is only obliged to ensure the property is as clean as it was when they took possession after allowing for fair wear and tear.

If cleaning costs are disputed by the tenant it is important you retain receipts and have date stamped photographic evidence to back up your claim. Bear in mind, costs are easier to quantify if you use a cleaning company rather than claiming an hourly rate for cleaning the property yourself.

Damage to the property

Once again be careful that any deductions you make are for damage which could not be considered fair wear and tear.

The tenancy deposit shouldn't be seen as a way to simply replace older fixtures and fittings at the end of a lease. You have to prove actual damage, such as holes in plaster, by comparing the current condition with that of the property at the start of the lease. Photographic evidence is key here.

Make sure you only claim for a like for like replacement. If the tenant has burned a large hole in a utility cord carpet you can't claim for a deep pile wool replacement.

Missing items

If anything itemised on your inventory is missing you can deduct the cost of a like for like replacement.


Any outstanding rent can be deducted from the tenancy deposit. If the rent owed is larger than the deposit paid, you should sue for the balance.

Although not an exhaustive list we have covered the main areas in which disputes arise between landlord and tenant.

As a landlord you are quite within your rights to deduct out of pocket expenses from a tenancy deposit. However, a tenant is also within their rights to dispute those costs.

You must therefore ensure you keep an accurate inventory and amass plenty of photographic evidence or your claim for deductions could be overruled at adjudication.

Many disputes can be avoided by carrying out your inspection with the tenant at the end of the lease and agreeing costs there and then.

If you reach a mutual agreement write up a document which both you and the tenant should sign. This will be invaluable if the tenant later decides to dispute your claim.

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