In just a few weeks it’ll be Easter, meaning a nice, relaxing break back at home. And after Easter let’s face it, it’s not long until exams and then this year will be over. With most student property contracts coming to an end from the 30th June onwards, you’ll need to start thinking about moving out. One of the most frustrating aspects of this – and something that often causes arguments between landlords and tenants – is deposits. You’ll all have had to put down a deposit at the beginning of the tenancy to cover the costs of any repairs that need doing as a result of your actions. Whilst you might be thinking that you’ve still got a while to go before you need to start worrying about how best to ensure you receive all of your deposit back; take it from someone whose been there and done that: start now!
If your house is clean and tidy then that’s great, but the majority of student houses won’t be – or at least, not up to the standards of the landlord. Make sure you and your housemates all chip in and give the property a big clean before you go away for the Easter holidays; and if anybody is staying in the house over Easter, it’s their responsibility it stays clean.
When you get back after Easter, continue to clean up too! By constantly doing a bit each week, you’re saving yourself all of that hard work by the time June rolls by, and it’ll ensure that standards are up to what is expected. Generally-speaking, think about what the property was like when you first arrived: that’s how you should leave it.
Report any damages
If there are any damages to the property – for instance, damp, broken furniture or rodents, make sure you contact your landlord letting them know, and keep a record of this. Therefore, if they don’t fix or replace whatever needs doing in the time between when you reported and when you leave, they can’t charge you for it. This happened in my house last year: one week after our landlord had visited the house for an inspection (deeming it ‘one of the cleanest’ she’d seen, much to my amazement!), we found out we had mice in the kitchen. We reported it to the landlord (they did nothing about it, by the way); but by the time it came to June they tried to charge us for the exterminators; but as I’d saved the email stating we had rodents despite the fact our landlord had said our house was clean, the charge was dropped.
Of course, by conducting an inventory at the beginning of the year, issues of damage should be easily resolvable. However, don’t be afraid to be assertive – unfortunately, some landlords do keep as much of the deposit as possible; so if you know that something wasn’t your fault, tell them. When I first moved into my house, my bedroom walls were supposed to be painted as there were lots of marks from the previous tenant. We took pictures of this, included this in the inventory and spoke to the landlord, who said that she wouldn’t repaint the walls, and I wouldn’t be charged for it. But guess what? At the end of the tenancy, she tried to charge me for repainting, and after much emailing and sending over emails, she eventually agreed to not charge me.
Saying that, many landlords are honest and reasonable, and will refund your deposit; but by regularly cleaning the property and reporting (and keeping a log) of any damages, you’ll be covering your backs from any unnecessary charges and giving yourself the best possible chance of receiving your full deposit back, meaning you’ll have a huge chunk of money to spend on whatever you like!
Written by Elle Pollicott