Private tenants are losing £40 million* per year through deposit disputes with landlords, a Kiwi Movers survey can reveal. Over the past five years, 52% of deposits were either fully or partly withheld by landlords, most of whom claimed insufficient cleaning or the need for minor repairs as the reason for withholding the depost. That’s the equivalent of more than 400,000 deposits a year, or £200 million over the five-year period*.

Over a quarter (28%) of people surveyed said their landlord delayed returning their deposit despite making no deductions, while just 20% said their deposit was returned swiftly without issue.

The importance of end of tenancy cleaning

Avoidable issues such as insufficient end of tenancy cleaning and minor repairs are the biggest reasons landlords give for withholding tenancy deposits, accounting for 62% of all tenancy deposit disputes cited in the study.

Not only will a professional end of tenancy cleaning service give you peace of mind that your property is up to scratch on check out, but a professional invoice is likely to act as a deterrent for any rogue landlords that may otherwise make frivolous claims against a deposit.

You are most likely to lose your deposit if you are;

  • Tenants living with friends
  • Students in rented house
  • Tenants living with partner or spouse

Moving house in London? – Here’s what you need to know about getting your deposit back

London is the capital of deposit disputes, with people living there twice as likely (11%) as the national average (6%) to have their whole deposit withheld, while those aged between 18 and 24 living with friends are the type of tenant most likely to lose out.

Amy Williams, a Digital Producer from Southampton took her London landlord to court and won after he withheld her deposit. “It was only a six month contract and the landlord tried to make us pay for problems that were in the flat when we moved in.

“The court said it was wear and tear, ordered the landlord to return our deposit and told him that wear and tear was something he’d have to get used to. The landlord also choose to hold the court session not in London but on the south coast. But luckily because we won he had to pay for our train tickets too. We were really poor at the time too!”

Tenancy dispute hot spots:

  • London
  • Scotland
  • West Midlands
  • North East

The most common reasons for lost deposits:

  • Minor repairs required – 33%
  • Cleaning required – 29%
  • Items missing from inventory – 19%
  • Unpaid bills – 16%
  • Other – 3%

Kiwi Movers director Regan McMillan said: “There’s been a steady increase in people hiring us to perform end-of-tenancy cleaning alongside our removals service. It’s not that these customers can’t clean for themselves, but a number of them feel that having an invoice from a professional company is the only way to counter what they see as the inevitable attempts to withhold part of their deposit. Our customers tell us they feel vulnerable unless they have paperwork to prove they left the property in an acceptable state. Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about having your deposit unfairly withheld.”

Worst reasons for withheld deposits

Toilet blockage mystery – “It was definitely clear when we left. If it was blocked, it must have been someone from the lettings agency that did it. However, it was £75 from a £1,000 deposit, so I didn’t bother challenging the landlord.”

Burglary damage – “The house had been broken into before we moved in. We gave up reporting the damage to the window that was caused, even though it prevented us from fully opening it. When we moved out, the landlord tried to blame us for the same damage.”

Detergent residue – “I hired a professional cleaning company because I didn’t have time to deep clean the apartment myself. The letting agency still deducted £35 from my deposit because there was detergent residue inside the detergent tray.”


*Based on 4.2 million privately rented households (ONS figures, reference 1) paying the equivalent to one month’s UK average rent of £761 (LSL Property Services figures, reference 2) and 6% (252,000) of those households losing their entire deposit, equivalent to one month’s rent.

**Kiwi Movers surveyed 1,034 UK adults between the 20th January 2015 and 11th April 2015.

Reference 1

Reference 2