Here's the ultimate Guide to Getting Your Tenancy Deposit Back for students moving into private housing for the first time.
The deposit when you rent a flat or house, which may also include the University's own student accommodation and halls, is usually a month's rent that is kept until the end of your tenancy when - hopefully - you'll get it back.
Your deposit however can be used by your landlord to pay for (certain) damage or costs you may cause during your stay at the property.
As the deposit is usually around a month’s rent you’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure you’re returned the full amount when your tenancy comes to an end. Here’s how you can do just that.
So with that all said here are our top tips to making sure you get your deposit back...
Before your tenancy
Rent from the reputable
While you should be able to trust that established, well-known letting agents can be trusted to play fair and follow the rules, if you’re dealing with an individual landlord it may be worth doing your own background checks. Can any former tenants give you references? Does the landlord have a registered office? While the law is committed to making sure you are returned the deposit you deserve, if you’re faced with a rogue landlord without any respect for the law you may be in store for disappointment.
Read the contract
Nobody enjoys reading the small print, especially when so much of it is what you’d accept, but if you don’t read what you’re signing you’ll only have yourself to blame when you discover you agreed to your landlord being able to retain half of your deposit to pay for a cleaner. Don’t let yourself be rushed into signing anything and seek advice if you have trouble understanding any of the clauses.
When you move in you’ll be given an inventory detailing any current issues the property has. Check this thoroughly making amendments where you need to and even attaching photos as evidence of any existing defects if necessary. Make a photocopy of the amended inventory, have your landlord sign both and retain a copy of your records. As you’ll have read the contract thoroughly, you’ll be certain that you’ve agreed to leave the property in the state you found it in rather than ‘perfect condition’.
During your tenancy
Document any problems as they arise
If fixtures and fittings deteriorate during your tenancy through no fault of your own notify your landlord as quickly as possible. Follow up on any telephone conversations with an email, stating explicitly what happened so you have evidence to drawn on in future if necessary.
Look after your property
Instead of trying to cheat your way to getting 100% of your deposit back, simply take care of your property. Remove muddy shoes before walking over carpets, clean your oven regularly and don’t smoke indoors – don’t wait till you’re about to move out to start sorting out your mess.
After your tenancy
Leave your property spotless
Make sure your property is at least as clean as you found it. If you’re not the best cleaner hiring one may be a worthwhile investment. Pay particular attention to places that are easy to overlook such as the seams of fridge doors.
You might think your landlord would appreciate you leaving a six-pack in the fridge, but if you’ve agreed in the contract that you won’t leave any personal belongings behind you’d be best not leaving any personal belongings behind.
You and your landlord must come to a mutual agreement about how much of your deposit will be returned. Once agreed they must pay it within 10 days.
Don't be afraid to dispute any disagreements over you deposit. Your tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDS) will offer a free dispute resolution service that will independently look into arguments and decide who is in the right.