How to get your deposit back

Check out inspections

Most landlords and letting agents want to inspect before they agree to refund your deposit.

Arrange the inspection for a time when you can be there to:

  • let your landlord or agent in

  • check the property and inventory together

With joint tenancies, you might all want to be there.

Find out how to prepare for a check out inspection.

Why is a check out inspection important?

The check out inspection and inventory are important evidence of the condition of the property when you give it back.

The deposit protection schemes look at this evidence if you or your landlord ask them to resolve any dispute about the return of your deposit.

You cannot be charged for a checkout inspection or inventory.

When should the inspection happen?

The check out inspection is often done on the last day of the tenancy as this is the date you are expected to give the property back.

Your agent cannot insist on an early inspection or that you hand your keys back before the legal end of your tenancy. For example, if your tenancy ends on a weekend but they want to inspect and take the keys back on a weekday.

Pre check out inspections

Some agents like to do a 'pre check out inspection' usually in the last month of the tenancy.

This is so they can:

  • assess how much work might be needed before they re-let the property

  • tell tenants about anything they think should be put right to get a full deposit refund

It's usually a good idea to agree to a pre check out inspection if it's offered.

It will give you a feel for how likely you are to get your deposit back in full and on time.

It also gives you a chance to put right any damage or replace any missing items before the final check out inspection.

Inspections after you move out

Some check out inspections happen after the tenants have returned the keys.

This usually means that you're not present at the check out inspection. You will not get a chance to question things you disagree with until you get a copy of the check out report.

This is not illegal but it can lead to disputes and delays in getting your deposit back.

If the agent will not do an inspection

Your landlord needs a reason to make deductions from your deposit.

It will be harder for them to charge you for things like cleaning or damage if there is no proof of the property's condition when you move out.

You could make your own inventory and take photos and videos if the agent will not inspect before you leave.

What happens at the inspection?

The landlord or agent might:

  • do the inspection themselves

  • use an independent inventory clerk

You can go round with them as they check the condition of the property compared to when you moved in.

If you disagree on anything about the cleanliness or condition of the property, your comments should be noted on the inventory or checkout report.

Ask your landlord or agent how long the inspection is likely to take.

If it is the last day of your tenancy, you will probably hand back your keys at the end so be ready to move out.

What if there is no check in report?

Your landlord needs a reason to make deductions from your deposit.

It will be harder for them to charge you for things like cleaning or damage if there is no proof of the property's condition when you moved in.

Will you get the deposit back at the inspection?

It's possible. If your landlord agrees to a full refund or you agree deductions on the day, your deposit could be returned straight away, usually by bank transfer.

Agents are more likely to want to confirm deposit refunds and deductions with the landlord. Sometimes you will not be sent the check out report until after the inspection.

It's best to assume that you might not get your deposit back in full at the inspection. Even with no disagreement over deductions it often takes a few days.

If there is a dispute over the return of your deposit, it will take longer. Your landlord should still refund any amount that is not disputed promptly when the tenancy ends.

Last updated: 7 July 2022

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