Moving in to a new place at the start of term is exciting but before you get settled there are a few things you must do to make sure you get all your deposit back from your landlord when you move out.
As many as two in five students don't get their full deposits back at the end of term. On average landlords keep over £160 and most blame cleaning issues saying the property wasn't cleaned to a high enough standard to warrant returning the full deposit.
Your landlord isn't a villain and maintaining a healthy relationship with them is your best chance of a hassle free tenancy. That said, you'll want to get all the cash you can back by the end of the year.
Here's our seven top tips to help you get your full deposit back when you move out:
1) Take photos of the house before you move in
Before you move your stuff in it's worth going around the house taking photos and videos of every room as proof of the state it was in when you got the keys.
You should do an inventory checklist too - this is where you list down everything in the property (or the rooms you'll be using) along with its condition. You may want to go around the property with the landlord or letting agent as you do this.
• Cracks and marks on walls
• Signs of water leakage and damp
• Cracks around light fixtures, such as spotlights on the ceiling
• Damage to any windows
• Carpet stains
• whether doors open and close properly on units and cupboards
• the cleanliness of your oven
• all the furniture and the condition it's in
Share this with your landlord or letting agent ASAP (but keep a copy) and ask them to fix anything that's wrong.
2) Run your tenancy contract past someone who knows what they're looking for
This might be the first time you've ever looked through a contract - get help.
Show it to someone else before you commit to anything to be sure you're not getting the wool pulled over your eyes. This could be a member of your family, the Citizens Advice Bureau or someone from your student union.
You can and should question anything that isn't clear or you don't understand. If you find something that seems unreasonable don't be afraid to negotiate with your landlord to see if they'd be willing to compromise.
3) Check your deposit is in a protection scheme
Your landlord is legally required to put your tenancy deposit in one of three deposit protection schemes in England and Wales.
You should be told the scheme it's protected by and what you need to do if you and your landlord don't agree within 30 days of moving in.
4) Find out what your landlord wants professionally cleaned
Some tenancy agreements require you to get your carpets or oven professionally cleaned when you move out. Make sure you agree in advance the companies you need to use so you aren't stuck paying for the most expensive in town.
If you know how much it costs up front you can all budget in advance and spread the cost over the term.
5) Pay your rent and bills on time
Sounds obvious but it's a must. The easiest way to do this is to figure out a budget when you first start university. Get two bank accounts, set up all your bills to go out of one and put enough money in there to cover all your rent and bills for the term.
Paying your rent late could mean the rest of your housemates pay penalties out of their own deposits - don't be THAT housemate.
6) Clean your house
It's the last thing you'll want to do but it's easier if you all chip in. Get together with your housemates and draw up a schedule of who cleans what around the house and when.
Dedicate half an hour a week where you all get together, turn up the music and blitz the house. Reward yourselves afterwards so it becomes a ritual rather than something you dread. It'll stop cleaning your house at the end of term doesn't turn into the most epic event of 2017.
7) Keep in your landlords good books
Totally worth doing because you might need a reference for next year's house as well as your money back when you move out. That means:
• Leave your accommodation as you found it, if you move furniture around put it back
• Be good neighbours, keep noise to a level that doesn't annoy anybody. If you have a gathering warn your neighbours, or even better invite them!
• If you damage anything let your landlord know ASAP and offer to pay or replace it
• If you hang up damp clothes or towels open windows and doors to stop mould
• Reply to emails or messages from your landlord as soon as you can and ask for permission before painting or putting up shelves or pictures
• Let them know in advance if you suspect you might be late with your rent. Don't put off telling them - honesty is the best policy