The Nationwide has called for greater consistency in the treatment and return of security deposits so that tenants leaving properties in a suitable state get their money back promptly.
According to its latest research among 2,000 tenants renting from a private landlord, it can take almost two months on average for tenancy deposits to be returned.
However, in what appears to be a lottery of experiences, while almost half of private renters surveyed received their deposit back within a month of leaving, almost one in five were made to wait more than three months and a further one in 25 for more than six months.
“There must be a better way to address the gap in deposits created when one tenancy ends and another begins. To ensure all private tenants have a better and more uniform experience, we need to consider more pragmatic solutions, including transferring deposits from one tenancy to the next, providing appropriate short-term loans or a guarantee” says Paul Wootton, Nationwide’s director of specialist lending.
While more than half of tenants who rent from a private landlord had never lost a tenancy deposit, one in 14 had never actually paid a deposit, rising to one in seven of those aged over 55 – perhaps because they had rented the same property for a longer period of time.
But more than a third of renters had previously lost some or all of their tenancy deposit – including one in 50 who report losing all of their deposit every time they had rented, and one in 20 who lost at least some of their deposit every time they had rented.
A further 28 per cent lost some or all of their deposit on some, but not all, previous rentals.
“Both landlords and tenants can take simple steps at the start and end of each tenancy to protect against discrepancies and understand their own responsibilities – resulting in a better experience for all. However, where end of tenancy issues cannot be resolved, we need a specialist housing court, equipped to provide fast and effective arbitration, as well as greater confidence of equitable experiences for all” says Wootton.