/ Home & Energy

My renting experience: ‘It was an unmitigated horror story’

Britain’s broken rental deposit scheme is causing misery for thousands, we reveal in new research today. Our guest author, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares their experience…

The UK’s rental deposit system is broken and causing havoc for thousands, Which?’s new report revealed today – and it’s findings are something I can associate with.

The research shows that 43% of renters have to use a credit card, loan or overdraft, or borrow money from family and friends, to cover the cost of moving into a property.

And nearly a third of people moving to a new property had to pay a whole new deposit before receiving the previous one back.

Housing horror

I’m just one of thousands whose landlord failed to protect their deposit.

When we left the house we rented, our landlord tried to withhold most of our deposit, on the spurious grounds that it was for “repairs” to damage we had caused.

She tried to charge us multiple times for the same things, e.g. a window that wasn’t even damaged; for ’emptying a compost bin’ that was actually hers and had been there when we first arrived.

The house was flood prone when there was heavy rain and a pool of water would collect under the floorboards in one room when the weather was bad; none of this was told to us before we moved in.

The landlord did not respect our privacy, entered the house when we were out, dug up plants we had put in, pulled up and threw away and broke solar lamps we had installed in the garden.

Landlord liberties

She tried to charge us rent on land which did not belong to her and which we had the owner’s permission to use for vegetables.

The landlord left us for six weeks in the winter without heating or hot water when the boiler failed, because she would only use a specific plumber and he was unavailable.

This all meant I became stressed and developed high blood pressure, which led to an aortic aneurysm.

I had to have major heart surgery just as we were due to move out of the place. Then I had nowhere to go from the hospital. I had to get a room in the local pub so as to be near the GP.

All in all, our renting experience was an unmitigated horror story.

This is a guest post by an anonymous writer. All views expressed are their own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

Are you a renter? Do you have a renting horror story? Share your thoughts below but if you’d prefer to share them privately, head over to our #rentrage campaign.


When I moved out of my flat, the lettings agency couldn’t even get hold of my landlord to release my deposit. So I had to find extra money to pay the £1,000+ deposit for my new flat. Then when the landlord did get back in contact, she tried to charge me £260 for professional cleaning, even though I left the flat cleaner than it was when I’d originally moved in. Luckily, my deposit was protected in the Deposit Protection Scheme, so I was able to dispute it and get most of that money back. It was very stressful though, and took up a lot of my time trying to sort it out.

We were made to have the carpet professionally cleaned, curtains dry cleaned and repaint the whole flat, when it wasn’t before we moved in. The letting agent told us the property was “in a better condition now than when you took it”.
They still charged us half of our original deposit, which we got back week’s later. For crumbs in a draw! And cleaning! I had scrubbed every inch to try and stop that happening. So by the time we paid for the carpet, dry cleaning and paint we were basically screwed out of about 90%. I was furious and will NEVER go through the letting agency again. Total con. We had to take a loan out to be able to move but we were desperate to get away.

We left our flat with a new baby because of the filthy unhygienic conditions in the communal areas, no cleaner employed, no maintenance whatsoever. We signed a lease for 12 months, left after 6 months giving 1 months notice. Agency (Haart) kept part of our deposit because we left early, we should have gone to a rent lawyer but couldn’t afford one. We left the flat a lot cleaner and freshly decorated than when we moved in.

We lost our £1500 deposit, because the letting agency went bust, and they had not placed our deposit into the Deposit Protection Scheme, we have had landlords trying to keep our deposit for the most ridiculous reasons, I have to say we are Landlords dream tenants, always paid on time, despite renting for the last 12 years.

There is a large estate agency which is swallowing up many smaller named agencies, which no one should have to rent from as they operate by their own rules. They charge ridiculously high fees for everything including having any kind of pet. They never maintain their properties or carry out all the necessary repairs. When they eventually do repair something after badgering them, their workmen cause damage and leave their mess behind. From other tenants who I have talked to after they have left, usually to find somewhere better and cheaper, they never return deposits unless taken to court! Deposits should be returned a month before the end of the tenancy so that you can find another property. They have already taken so much money in spurious fees when you sign up!

There’s a lot of mis-information about letting and renting. The deposit scheme, in my opinion, is better than any previous arrangements. All the tales of people being charged for a ‘professional’ clean (whatever that is – what professional qualifications are there? Can you do a degree?) are a result of tenants not being aware of their rights. If you think the landlord is trying to charge too much, then raise it with the tenancy deposit scheme, they will look at both sides and decide what (if any) deductions are to be made.

Yes, this slows the process down of you actually getting your money back, but that makes little difference. As a tenant, you always have to have the deposit saved up for your next tenancy before you receive a refund of the previous deposit.

One superb source of information is Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert site. Read the forums. You’ll learn a lot. I know I did and that, as a tenant, I am aware of my, and my landlord’s, rights and responsibilities.

My main gripe with the current letting system in England is twofold: the extortionate letting agents’ fees for taking out a tenancy and the lack of security. Three-year tenancies are the norm in France (for example) and it would be a welcome move if these lengthy tenancies could be offered here.

“Three-year tenancies are the norm in France (for example) and it would be a welcome move if these lengthy tenancies could be offered here.”
Not BrExit likely, Mx Remoaner.

Like so many other parts of our everyday life from transport to utilities, we’ve been sold a pup by the rush to liberalisation and de-regulation of ‘the market’ thru Privatisation.
The very basis of a stable life = housing, has been undermined by the sale of ‘Council houses’ into the grasping mitts of neo-Rachmanites and the greedy, amateur Buy to Rent brigands – welcome to the brave new world of the Precariats.
“A plutocracy of multi-billionaires with absurd power, a shrinking “salariat” with employment security … and a rapidly growing precariat. ” one pay packet away from the gutter.

cass1 says:
28 March 2019

i have found that finding houseing is difficult for everyone in this day and age