A student has described how she fought tooth and nail to get her money back from a lettings agency who "tricked" her into signing legally binding forms.
Katie, who has now graduated from Cardiff University, told The Huffington Post UK that lettings agents tried to deduct hundreds of pounds from her deposit by claiming the house had been trashed during her stay.
The 23-year-old was living with five other girls in a house in the Cathays area - which is popular among students studying at the university
"The house was filthy when we moved in," Katie said. "We demanded the letting agency gave it a deep clean but they refused so we had no choice but to clean it ourselves. There were mice droppings under the chair and dust and grime everywhere, particularly in the kitchen, which was disgusting.
"We kept the house as clean as we could throughout our year there - which was hard as it's such an old property. When we left everyone was on their hands and knees scrubbing the floors, walls, surfaces."
Pictures of Katie's house before she moved in
When they moved out of the house an employee from the lettings agency came round to do the "check out", Katie explains.
"She said the house was dirty and there were stains on the walls and carpets, which were already there before. She said we could contest the condition of the house but we couldn't go anywhere until we'd signed a form saying we'd handed the keys over.
"In hindsight, we really shouldn't have signed it."
Unbeknown to them, the form Katie and her housemates signed was a document saying they accepted they had caused damage to the house. The lettings agency deducted £150 from each girl's deposit to "pay for repairs" and clean the house.
Eventually, after contesting the agents through the Deposit Protection Agency, the girls got their deposits back - but only because they had dated photographic evidence of the house's condition when they moved in.
Now, one tenant deposit protection (TDP) scheme - my deposit - has issued advice to students on how to keep their deposits safe.
Under the law, landlords are required to protect deposits via a tenancy deposition protection (TDP) scheme.
David Salusbury, National Landlords Association Chairman said: "TDP is in place to safeguard any deposit for the duration of the tenancy, so it is vitally important students are aware of these important requirements.
"Landlords have 30 days in which they must protect the deposit and pass the proof of protection to the tenant. Failure to do so could lead to a fine of up to three times the deposit value. Tenants who are unsure should ask their landlord for details of where their deposit has been protected if they haven’t received it within this period."
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