The last thing you want after renting a property is to lose your deposit and not understand why. It’s well known that students can often be susceptible to losing their deposits and landlords often have the misconception that all students have messy houses from endless parties and gatherings. This isn’t always true. Hopefully this guide will help you tackle any problems with getting back your deposit.
Ensure your deposit is protected
Before you move in, ensure your landlord has protected your deposit using a government-backed scheme. You’d be surprised by the amount of landlord scams that are are regularly pulled on unsuspecting 20-something year-old’s, so make sure you check online to see if your deposit is protected. If your landlord hasn’t protected it, you can go to the small claims court to reclaim it PLUS you can receive up to three times the original value as a penalty for the landlord (then you can finally start paying off your student loan).
Pick the right accommodation
There’s that saying: “the prevention is better than the cure”; one of the best ways to ensure you don’t get burnt when leaving a rented property is choosing the right one to begin with. Make sure you do your research before you sign anything; do some stealth Googling about the company, make sure they’re reputable; check with past tenants about what they’re like to rent with – no one will be more honest than people that once lived in a property and rented through the company you are considering renting through.
What is a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. It specifies the legal terms and conditions for your tenancy, and states the certain rights for you and the landlord; letting you live in the property as long as you pay the rent and follow the rules. The tenancy can be fixed-term or periodic. For students, fixed-term is the most common, but periodic is also available which runs on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis. Ensure you follow the set rules of the tenancy agreement to receive your deposit back.
Tips on getting your deposit back
- Clean! I hate to sound patronizing, but it’s honestly the most simple solution. Pick up your washing up gloves and tackle the moldy takeaway remnants and sticky red wine spillages. Aim to make it look identical to how it looked when you moved in.
- Your Camera is Your Weapon. Take photos when you leave the house to ensure you’ve got visual evidence just in case you need to dispute charges.
- Invest in a Tester Pot of Paint. It’s hard to resist putting up pictures and posters to make things more homely. But when it comes to moving out, the blu tack or sellotape marks that remain can end up costing you a lot. If you buy a small pot of paint that matches your wall colour, you can take it into your own hands by splashing on a few neat blobs of paint to cover the damage.
- Check the Contract. This may sound very boring, but it could end up saving you a good sum of money. Ensure that you’ve read everything so they can’t charge you for something you’ve simply forgotten to do.
- Grab a Friend. Drag someone round to help you spot any missed areas of dirt or mess. As you’ve lived there for over a year it can be easy to get used to the mold on the bathroom wall or constant crumbs on the kitchen floor, but these probably weren’t here when you moved in. A fresh pair of eyes can help you spot these trouble areas.
Inspection time—what is the landlord on the lookout for?
Sometimes you have to pity your landlord; you’re probably one of the good tenants – having your deposit unjustly withheld. However sometimes tenants can leave houses in truly disgraceful conditions, and landlords leaving homes in disrepair because they can’t afford to fix them, is actually one of the leading causes of empty homes in Britain. You don’t want to be a part of that problem.
Focus on cleaning the fixtures: bathroom cabinets, kitchen cupboards and units, built in desks, etc. These are harder for landlords to replace so it is important to ensure they’re in good condition. Whether it’s carpet or wood floors, make sure there are no obvious stains, dents, scratches, rips or burns on the floor. If there are marks on the floor, often these can be easily covered up with a cheap stain remover like Vanish. As previously mentioned, add a dash of paint over any markings on the wall to ensure you don’t get charged for a whole wall of painting by the landlord.
Featured photo credit: infoetudes via infoetudes.com