University is probably the first time you’ll move out from your parents and be left to fend for yourself. Not only will you have to decide who you want to live with but you’ll also have to sort out all the paperwork and take on the financial responsibilities that come with renting a place of your own. It’s important you understand everything you need to do to make sure your tenancy goes smoothly and you keep on top of all your monthly bills. Here is how to make sure you get your tenancy deposit back.
Keep your deposit safe:
To secure rented accommodation you and your housemates will have to hand over a deposit for the property which could be up to two months rent. By law the money needs to be held in a Tenancy Deposit Plan, so it’s important you check which scheme your letting agent or landlord uses. Make sure you get confirmation your money has gone into a scheme within 30 days of them receiving it. If anything goes wrong the company who hold your deposit may be able to help you get it back - they can work as a mediator if you have a dispute with your landlord or letting agent when it’s time to move out.
Complete a detailed inventory:
Before you move in to your rented accomodation make sure you go around the property with your landlord or letting agent with an inventory. If you aren’t provided with one make your own - simply write a list of any damage or wear and tear you find and list all the items in the property. Take photos and video and send these to the letting agent or landlord so they can keep these on file. Pay particular attention to the state of the carpets, oven and expensive items and ask if they’ve been professionally cleaned before you move in. When it’s time to move out you can refer to the inventory and photos as a guide for any items that need cleaning or replacing.
Keep on top of your cleaning:
As soon as you move in draw up a cleaning rota with your housemates to help you all keep on top of your household chores. Regularly cleaning will mean you’ll have less work to do when you have inspections. If you allow mould and mildew to set in you could face costly cleaning bills when it's time to move out - a few minutes cleaning often is better than hours and hours after months of not doing any.
Check your contract:
Before you sign your tenancy agreement make sure you know exactly what is expected of you before you move out.
Some contracts will state you need to get the house professionally cleaned including the oven and carpets and provide receipts to prove you’ve done so. This may mean moving out proves costly, however if you know it’s coming you can budget for it upfront. Don’t allow your landlord or letting agent to choose who will do the professional cleaning because they may use the most expensive. Be sure to get a few quotes before agreeing to anything to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
It’s a good idea to get someone else to look over your contact for you too, like a parent, guardian or someone at your students union - they may spot things you hadn’t noticed. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your landlord or letting agent if there is anything in your contract you think is unfair or you want to change.
Keep on your landlords good side:
Keep your property in a good condition and report anything that gets broken straight away. This could help build a good relationship with your landlord and help make it easier to get things fixed when you need it. You may also be asked for a reference for the next property you rent and being a good tenant will help to ensure you secure your next tenancy.
Communication is key - be respectful of the property you live in and treat it like it’s your own. Good communication, respect and honesty will all go towards getting your full deposit back at the end of your tenancy.
Keep on top of your bills:
Paying your bills on time is really important, so make sure you set up a budget at the beginning of term and agree with everyone sharing your house exactly how much they need to contribute.
Before you move out at the end of term, make sure all your bills have been paid in full and you tell the utility companies that you’re moving out. Take pictures of the electricity and water meters before you leave so you can prove how much you used.
Be sure to pay your rent on time too, if you don’t you’ll likely get stung with late payment fees.
Getting a handle on your personal finances at University is key. If you miss electricity payments or run up bad debts with your mobile phone company it could take months, if not years to improve your credit rating which may impact your ability to secure credit in the future like a mortgage so make your finances a priority.
Don’t be afraid to disagree:
When it’s time to move out you may get charged for certain things like not removing rubbish, dents in the wall and not cleaning properly. If you disagree with charges make sure you dispute them, especially if the items you are being charged for were already in that state when you moved in. Speak to your landlord or estate agent and explain why you think the charges are unfair - they will have ten days to get back to you and if they don’t you could start legal proceedings.
Getting your deposit back:
When the time comes to move out, your landlord has ten days to return your deposit to you. If you are disputing deductions from your deposit, it will continue to be held in the tenancy deposit scheme until the issues are sorted.
Make sure you thoroughly clean your house, get rid of any rubbish and fix or replace anything you’ve broken. If you’ve put up pictures and made holes in the walls fill them in and if you’ve moved furniture around put it back where you found it.
Basically you need to try your best to leave the property in the same or better state than you found it in. Reasonable wear and tear is allowed and this is where you can run into a grey area, which is why if you’ve got a good relationship with your landlord or letting agent they are more likely to be lenient with you.