It's very common for agents and landlords to claim against your damage deposit, but they must have good evidence.
We suggest always disputing damage deposit claims, unless there is real damage, and the landlord has good evidence of it.
Often landlords and estate agents will try to keep some of your damage deposit. Unless you have actually caused some real damage, we always suggest disputing these claims.
This is because landlords often have deposit insurance (so they will get paid either way) and because the reasons given for why some of your deposit needs to be kept are often very weak.
You should also take dated pictures before you leave, and take a handwritten record of the state of the property, so that later on you can prove that you left it clean and in good condition.
Wear and tear
Any damage which has come about because of 'fair wear and tear' cannot be claimed for from your damage deposit.
They also cannot claim for the redecoration of a whole room if there are only a few marks on the wall.
Minor dirt or grime
At the end of your tenancy your landlord or estate agent visits to compare your property to the inventory that was taken before you moved in.
If, while at your home, they point out dust, dirt, grime or water marks (or anything else which can be easily cleaned with a cloth) and say this will require professional cleaning... do not accept it.
If possible, clean it in front of them or if they are persistent, state that you will dispute that as it is easily cleanable by the landlord and does not require a professional.
You'll need to know if your deposit is protected in an official scheme, and if so, which one.
For most people (although not all) your landlord must protect your deposit by putting it into a government sponsored deposit scheme.
If you find that they haven't done this within a few months or your tenancy, this can have serious consequences for the landlord. It could invalidate any eviction notice they've sent you, and you could take them to court and might claim 1-3 times the deposit amount in compensation, as well as get your deposit back.
Disputing a claim against your damage deposit
Landlords and estate agents often claim on tenants' damage deposits as a matter of routine as a way to make a little more money.
We advise members to challenge any damage deposit claim so as to deter further weak claims being made against other renters in the future.
To do this you need to go on the website for the deposit protection scheme your landlord used, and complete their 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' form.
You'll need to send them any evidence you have, and they'll ask your landlord to send their evidence as well.
Let us know if you need any help with lodging a dispute.