5 Crazy Reasons For Tenancy Deposit Deductions

5 crazy reasons for tenancy deposit deductions

We have been running for nearly 5 years, in that time we have spoken to thousands of tenants about their deposits. In most cases, it’s a similar theme of complaints including unfair deductions, unreasonable agents & a seemingly impossible fight to get back their money. Every once in a while we speak to someone whose landlord still manages to shock us, it’s hard to know if we should laugh or cry!

After recently reading the story of Hannah from London who shared on Twitter about her agent’s threat to charge her for a coat rack she had kindly offered to leave in place for the next tenant, we thought we would run down the list of the 5 most ludicrous, most ridiculous and most outlandish attempts we have seen from landlords or agents to keep hold of the tenant’s money!

1. Charge to clean a garden when no garden exists! – This one goes back to when we first opened our doors. A client phoned up frustrated as the letting agent was refusing to return £300 from their deposit as a deposit deduction, despite the fact they had left 5 weeks prior. We spoke to them about the issue & initially did wonder why the tenant was quite so annoyed.

The agency had sent an invoice paid to a gardening & landscaping company by way of evidence of the £300 charge. It was only when we dug a little deeper when the penny finally dropped as to the cause of the frustration, the gentleman had been renting a flat, on the 7th floor! The garden in question was a tiny concreted balcony! The charge was pretty quickly dropped without explanation and we never did get to find out what the landscaping company had done to the balcony! 

2. The world’s most expensive lightbulb – OK we get it, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to change lightbulbs when they die, fair enough. We can also imagine another blog written by landlords complaining about tenants phoning up to ask for the bulb to be changed. But still, we had to triple check we had read it right when a tenant got in contact with us to query a charge on their deposit made by the landlord of £125 for lightbulb-related issues, strange right? Well it got stranger, the landlord wasn’t even charging for new bulbs, instead, the charge was because the tenant had left the hallway light on! The charge was apparently for wasted electricity & no the tenant was not renting a lighthouse. We did ask! I think it might be time for the landlord to change supplier.

3. No loo roll! – Renting can be hard at the best of times & when a relationship with your landlord turns sour things can escalate pretty quickly. This can be even worse if you are a lodger living in the same property as the landlord. For some reason, the government took the decision not to extend the requirement for deposit protection to lodgers, making it much harder for anyone living with the landlord to get their deposit back. Also meaning some of the most ludicrous attempts at charges come from lodgers.

But one really stands out, the landlord who saw fit to keep £30 for toilet roll! Allegedly, the tenant had left without having purchased more loo roll for the house. While we all know how frustrating it is when the housemate doesn’t get their half of the essentials, we cannot find anything in the legislation regarding deposits that covers loo roll, milk, or any other household essentials!  

4. One giant hamster – Up until the Tenant Fee ban came in landlords could charge any amount they wanted by way of a deposit. Mercifully for many, this has now been capped at 5 weeks, however, some critics worry that the change has had the unintended consequence of making it harder for those wanting to rent with pets to find somewhere. In the past a landlord might have asked for an additional week or two by way of a pet deposit, these are now illegal under the ban.

Perhaps the example of the lady who contacted us a few years back furious after being emailed by a potential letting agent with a demand for an additional £500 pet deposit might explain why the extra regulation was needed.
We thought maybe the house was £2000 a month to rent (therefore explaining the extra £500), nope, it was a 3-bed semi-detached house near Rotherham on the market for £550. So, what pet could possibly have provoked the demand for such a huge deposit? A horse? A rhino? Nope, the offending furry was a single dwarf hamster. The lady had only mentioned the pet in passing to the agent at the viewing, sufficed to say she did not take the property!

5. The winner – The grand prize by far & away the most ludicrous attempt we have ever seen by a letting agent to keep part of a tenant deposits goes to a lovely agency in London who shall remain unnamed.

The email from them took everyone at Tenant Angel’s breath away. We won’t bore you with the full details but the offending item on the list of charges was £70 for the removal of items left in the property by the previous tenant. OK, fair enough sometimes the tenant thinks that leaving that old wardrobe is doing the landlord a favour & the reality is they simply need to pay to get rid of it.

What was the offending item? Well, the former tenant was a lovely, slightly older lady, she had been in the property for a few years & while never having much to do with the agency, she had said they had always been very good to her. When she moved out she had decided to leave them a thank you card, a small bunch of flowers & a tin of chocolates!

After a week or so the agency dropped the charge claiming it had been an administrative error & that they appreciated the kind gesture… talk about taking the biscuit!

What’s the strangest thing a landlord has ever tried to charge you for? Do get in touch & let us know & of course if you are struggling to get your deposit back contact one of the team for fast, free help.