Nearly 20 per cent of renters say that when they hand over their deposit cheque, they never expect to see all the money again.
New research by Slater and Gordon shows on-going battles between landlord and tenant.
Just 41 per cent of tenants received their full deposit back, while 76% said they thought the process was unfair.
Furthermore, 72 per cent felt like they had to fight their landlord to get the sum of deposit back they felt they were owed.
Four in 10 received none of their deposit back when leaving the property with the average UK tenants paying their landlord a security deposit of £549.
However, 7 in 10 landlords say that their tenants have caused more damage than their security deposit can cover.
The most common reasons landlords and letting agencies gave for refusing to hand back a deposit were stains on the carpet (58 per cent), chipped paint and damaged wall paper (54 per cent) broken or damaged furniture (45 per cent) and broken or damaged windows (31 per cent).
Samantha Blackburn, property lawyer, from Slater and Gordon said: “Security deposit disputes between landlord and tenant are a common problem and something we are seeing our clients experience more and more. If tenants are respectful of the property and leave it in the same condition as when they moved in they can reasonably expect to get their full deposit back.
“We advise tenants to take photos of the property on arrival and keep a detailed inventory throughout your stay – making note of any damage, alerting your landlord to it at the time.
“Landlords should do the same and make sure they what they are charging their tenants is an accurate security deposit to reflect any damage that might occur during the tenancy.”
This issue is part of a larger on going contention between landlords and tenants and how they go about the letting process.
A total of 18 per cent of respondents said they never even bothered to read the contract before signing it.
More than seven in 10 landlords said they have fallen out with their tenant over money.
Almost half said they fell out with tenants over money regarding cleaning bills (48 per cent), replacing broken or damaged goods in the property (48 per cent), breaking fixtures (46 per cent), or subletting (14 per cent).
Seventy nine per cent of landlords said they wished they had asked for bigger deposits from their tenants after damage to their property wasn’t covered – including damage to the carpets, walls, appliances and furniture.
But, landlords admitted to rarely liaising with their tenants, with 24 per cent saying they only spoke to their tenants once every three months.
More than two in 10 tenants claimed that not receiving their full deposit back caused fall outs with their housemate and 26 per cent said they were unable to afford the deposit for their next property.
Samantha Blackburn, from Slater and Gordon, said: “It is crucial that all tenants read their contract thoroughly before signing – this avoids any surprises or disputes in the future.
“It is also important that landlords are in contact with their tenants and are monitoring the use or damage to the property throughout the tenancy.
“If you are a tenant or landlord who is unsure how to proceed, it is always best to get legal advice from a property specialist.”