How to Claim Your Rental Deposit from your Landlord.

Getting your deposit back from a landlord these days when you’re renting a home or apartment is often a contentious issue that often requires some negotiation. Your relationship with your landlord may start out great and you may know this landlord for many months and years to come. I meet clients regularly for end of tenancy cleaning jobs in Dublin who tell me of their frustrations over many years of dealing with property agents or landlords who refuse to return the rental deposit, even though the person has hired a professional cleaner to help and often times returned the house / apartment in better condition than when they first moved in.

A typical deposit for a home or apartment in Dublin may be a substantial amount of money it could even be a couple of thousand euro. Landlords expect their rental property returned in good condition as in the terms of your rental agreement. Naturally a tenant may assume they will get the full deposit back if they’ve kept the property in good condition but sometimes this is not the case.

Unfortunately not all landlords treat their tenants fairly and if you’ve been wondering about why you didn’t get your full deposit returned to you or you didn’t get a complete refund it’s not difficult to see why this is oftentimes a sticking point when renting a property.

Please note although there is no specific time frame set down in Irish law about when a landlord must return deposit, advocacy services like www.threshold.ie recommend that in normal circumstances a deposit should be returned within 14 days of the end of a tenancy.

In this guide I have provided a few key steps to help you ensure that you get your full security deposit back.

Step 1. Read your lease carefully

The lease provided by your landlord or agent will tell you if you need to give notice and how much time is required. If your lease has an end date you can simply move out on or before that day. However some leases are automatically extend. If your lease extends, you need to give notice, or else you could be at risk of losing your security deposit for breaking your new lease. If you are on a month to month lease you will also need to give written notice, typically 30 days before you plan to move out. Be sure to get a receipt from your landlord that your notice was submitted on time!

Step 2. Understand some basic Irish tenancy law

There are certain conditions by law in which your landlord may retain part or all of your deposit, you need to know these!

  • Rent arrears
    If there is some rent outstanding or overdue at the end of your tenancy your landlord may legitimately retain all or part of your deposit to cover the arrears.
  • Damage to the property of normal wear and tear
    Your landlord may withhold part or all of the deposit if there has been damage to the property above what is considered normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is the deterioration that occurs over a period of time due to ordinary and reasonable use of a premises.At the end of your tenancy you are not required to get a property professionally cleaned unless it is a condition of release but it can be recommended. Before leaving you should clean the property totally, remove all of your belongings, dispose of all rubbish and take photographs to show the condition in which it was returned. Ideally you should ask for a final inspection of the house or apartment with your landlord or housing agent.If the property agent or landlord has a claim that there has been damage to the property they should offer receipts or invoices showing the cost which were incurred in carrying out the necessary repairs. Later in this article I will run through some top tips to help you get your property back in the condition that you originally found it when you moved in.
  • Don’t have any unpaid utility bills
    If you owe any money for unpaid utility bills for example gas or electricity and if the utility bill is it in the landlord’s name they may withhold part or all of the deposit to cover these costs. Request for a copy of the bill to ensure you are paying only what you owe.

Step 3. Complete an apartment rental inspection checklist.

When moving into the property for the first time work with the landlord to check off all boxes ensure that everything is in working order and note any existing blemishes, damage, stains and any utilities that are not in full working order.

Bring a camera with you, before you unpack any of your stuff and  take pictures or videos of your apartment (every room / cupboard / wardrobe / bathroom / shower / toilet etc) and note the condition that everything is in before you unpack anything. Be sure to pay extra attention to anything that looks less than top quality. If you document everything your landlord cannot then claim that you caused the damage which was existing in the first place.

Once you’ve completed this checklist make a signed and dated copy of it for your landlord and for yourself. Keep the photographs and videos online in a place you know you can get you can reach them, for example you can email the pictures to yourself store them in Dropbox uploading to Google Drive (remember to label them so you can find them easily!).

Step 4. Start organising and cleaning your house or apartment.

  • To ensure you have a chance of getting your full deposit back at the end of your tenancy you need to start organising to have your place fully cleaned and reassembled into the condition that you found it when you first moved in.
  • Patch up any holes or fix any blemishes on the walls of furniture where you hung posters, pictures, etc
  • Repaint the walls the original colour if necessary (you may need to consult your landlord first!)
  • Fix any cupboard doors, cabinets or loose hinges that might be from general wear and tear
  • Deep clean the refrigerator, oven, microwave and dishwasher
  • Sweep, vacuum and mop all floors once you have all of your furniture moved out
  • Carpets may have acquired some blemishes in your time in the house so it worth cleaning them with off the shelf products or if necessary hire a professional carpet cleaner.
  • Showers and bathrooms after deteriorate rapidly over time deep cleaning all surfaces and the grout thoroughly.
  • Check all taps are working, check the toilet seat is fitted properly or replace with a new one which can be very cheap.

Step 5. Take photos / video the day you move out

Photograph the condition in which you left the apartment or house, take pictures of every room, surface, all of the fixtures and fittings, carpets, wall coverings, shower / bathroom and deliver these to your landlord the same day if possible. If you are unable to send these pictures by email, don’t worry about it, these days all digital cameras have timestamp data included in the photo if you later need to prove the specific date and time they were taken.

Step 6. Request a final walk-through of the apartment or house with your landlord

After you’ve cleaned and fix up the house ask your landlord to inspect the place with you present. Remember that landlords or agents do not have to agree to do a walk through with you. Many prefer to do the walk-through alone in their own time at their leisure to ensure that you didn’t damage the place beyond normal wear and tear. Regardless of this, they should still be able to give you a full list of any damages and the necessary charges to fix them.

Step. 7  Tie up any loose ends

The day that you return the keys you should also leave a forwarding address and if you would like the security deposit returned somewhere apart from your forwarding address, make sure to leave that with your landlord too. Let your landlord know where to send the security deposit.

If your basic negotiation efforts to claim your rent deposit back from your landlord fail then follow our link with advice below on what to do when rent deposit is not returned.