Around 40% of students moving into private rental accommodation this autumn expect their landlord will retain about a third of their deposit when they come to move out, according to research.
Money.co.uk, a comparison website, says this will equate to a £32 million loss for the near 200,000 students who might be affected.
With around 500,000 students living in private rented accommodation, they will be paying an average deposit of £572 which means student deposits worth nearly £300million are being taken by landlords.
The research reveals that around 52% of student tenant deposit disputes are over cleaning with 52% of cases being brought because landlords felt the property had not been cleaned well enough for the deposit to be returned.
Most common reason for landlords keeping the deposit
The next most common reason for landlords keeping the deposit, in 24% of cases, was to pay for damage to fittings and fixtures.
Other reasons for not returning deposits include, in 22% of cases, excessive wear and tear and 5% of students said unpaid bills was the reason.
Worryingly, 25% of students claimed they did not receive details of legally required deposit protection schemes with 10% of students saying their landlord did not protect their deposits.
Nearly two in three students questioned saying their deposit was unfairly withheld by the landlord, just 15% took action to dispute the decision and so reclaimed part or all of their deposit while 20% of students said they did take action but did not receive anything.
Another worrying aspect to the survey is that four out of five students said they had not signed an inventory when they moved into the property which left them with little evidence of the property's condition before they moved in and after they left.
Not surprisingly, more than half of students questioned said that if they had signed the inventory it would have made getting their deposit back much easier.
‘Ensuring the deposit is protected is key’
The website’s editor, Hannah Maundrell, said: “For many students this will be the first time they have rented their place and there are lots of things to consider but ensuring the deposit is protected is key.”
She added: “Landlords are not the enemy so students must ensure the property is in a decent state so the landlord has no reason for keeping their money.
“With more than half a million students in private accommodation there is a large room for problems and by not signing a photo inventory, there's a risk the student will lose money every time they come to move out. Student debt is already huge so forfeiting a deposit is an unnecessary loss.”