Landlord Query: Deposit Retention – Damage to property

March 2023


I have just conducted a final inspection on my rental property. The tenants have been in situ for three years. My lease agreement specifically states no smoking is permitted in the property.

There is significant nicotine damage – burn marks in the sofa and carpet as well as nicotine stains on the wall.

Am I within my rights to retain part of the deposit to repair these damages?


A property should be left clean and tidy when the tenant leaves, you cannot expect the property to be returned in the exact same condition it was presented at the beginning of the tenancy – you must take into consideration normal wear and tear.

However, the tenant should not do anything which causes damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear.

In your case, nicotine damage (in the event that smoking was expressly prohibited) would be considered in excess of reasonable wear and tear. Deductions may be made or a deposit may be retained in full . However, the onus of proof will be on the landlord to justify why all of, or a portion of the security deposit, was retained to remedy damages in excess of reasonable wear and tear.

We suggest that you keep records of the below to support your retention of the deposit or part of same.

  • photographic evidence (preferably before and after)
  • purchase invoices to show the age of the damaged items
  • dated invoices and quotations to show the cost of repairs
* Take note of the date of publication of this piece. Information on this website may change with the passing of time and the law is constantly changing. Whilst we take steps to ensure the accuracy of the information, we cannot guarantee this. Clarification should always be sought.  


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