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What are your rights with regard to renting deposits

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Shane Adams

When you rent a property, your landlord will require a deposit, usually you will be required to pay a sum equal to 6 months rent as your deposit. Since 2007 it has been required for your landlord to place the deposit in a government approved deposit protection scheme. These schemes will help protect your money and will ensure you receive your deposit or at least some of it, if you meet your tenancy agreement.

Before you start searching for a property it is important you understand the legal aspects of being a tenant. When you have found your property on a website such as Rightmove or Zoopla you will receive a tenancy agreement document from your landlord. It will typically be 4-5 pages long and very detailed, be sure to read every line carefully, if in doubt have a family member or friend who is familiar with rental law to have a read of it. Usually your agreement with list things you need to do over the term of the tenancy to receive your deposit back or to continue renting the property. Some key directions is most agreements will be;

–        pay your rent on time

–        pay all your bills on time-savers

–        respect the neighbours

–        look after the property and leave it in the same state as when you arrived

The landlord in return for this will maintain the building. Any repairs to fixtures or exterior will be taken care of., other responsibilities you may have are;

–        tell your landlord if you are leaving the property for 14 days, this may affect your landlords insurance

–        keep the property secure and don’t give keys to anybody else

–        tell your landlord when things need repairing to avoid bigger problems down the line

–        you should carry out any basic maintenance such as changing light bulbs yourself

Under all assured short-hold tenancies (these cover all properties whose annual rent is below £25,000 and the landlord doesn’t live in) your landlord cannot regain the property before the agreed letting period has been reached. Once the original letting period has been reached and a new contract has not been reached your contract may lapse into what is called a ‘periodic tenancy’ this means your landlord can ask you to leave their property giving two months’ notice in writing, you may also leave if you wish too, giving one months’ notice in writing, or four weeks if rent is weekly. Students especially may be taken for a ride when it comes to renting deposits, you can ask for advice from your estate agent or building owner, you may wish to try Mansion Student services if renting in Manchester.

Here are a few tips to help your renting go smoother

–        never enter into a tenancy if there is no written tenancy agreement, this may cause severe problems down the line, especially in regards to the return of your deposit

–        make sure you have the phone number of the person responsible for repairs

–        double check your tenancy agreement for any unfair claws such as one that states your landlord can enter the property at any time

–        if you have a problem don’t be afraid to contact the landlord or letting agent, most will be happy to keep good tenants

Make sure you get a receipt for your deposit and make sure you are satisfied that your deposit is protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

Here are a few tips for getting your deposit back at the end of the tenancy;

–        get a detailed inventory done at the start and make sure you are present for it

–         if your landlord doesn’t do one, do one yourself, make a note and take pictures of any damage to interior and exterior, sign and date it and send it to your landlord

–        make sure your property is clean and empty when you leave, landlord may charge a ‘removal’ fee if something as trivial as a box of cornflakes is left in the cupboard

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