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Can a landlord claim unpaid rent from the deposit?

Can outstanding rent be deducted from the deposit?Tenancy deposit problem

Here is a problem from Martin (not his real name) which was loaded up to our Landlord Law Blog Clinic:

“My tenant only fulfilled 7 months of a 12 month lease, citing personal problems for having to break the lease.

The property was left in an unfit state for re-lease. Upon request the tenant did return to clean up/remove some items but we still have repairs/expenses. They broke into a shed and kept a dog on the property without our knowledge.

We are holding a bond with the DPS. What is my legal position? I believe I am within my right to hold money from the bond for repairs but can I withhold money for loss of rent?”

My view is that, yes, you should be able to claim the rent from the deposit. The deposit is there to provide a fund for landlords if tenants fail to comply with their legal obligations, and paying rent is certainly a legal obligation! However it will to a certain extent depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement used.

If you have any comments for Martin, please use the comment box at the foot of this post.

(See also the comments area below and >> click here to read our terms of use and comments policy)

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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3 Responses to Can a landlord claim unpaid rent from the deposit?

  1. The 3 deposit protection schemes just recently put out a guide to claiming. They are pretty much the same. the DPS one can be found here and was written about by Tessa on this site when it came out.

    It does clearly mention claims for rent arrears.A landlord has to provide details of rent accounting if they are to be successful and be aware that your claim may well be disputed.

    I regularly interview tenants where the landlord flatly refuses to give receipts for payments. The usual trick is to lose a paper trail and avoid tax or other liabilities but what they dont realise is that they also knacker themselves for a rent arrears claim. Not that I am saying this is the case here Martin.

  2. If the lease (or rent deposit deed) says that’s what its for, then yes. Deposit clauses vary but that’s where I’d start.

  3. It’s worth making sure that the AST quite clearly states the deposit also covers for rent arrears.

    In line with this it’s also prudent to have a complete record of all rents received and owed. We do this through our database but a spreadsheet is just as good.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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