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Protect Yourself from Deposit Deductions: Student Safety Tips.

Exams over! Put your pens down, sit back from your desks and take some time to relax, reflecting on what you have achieved this year…and then knuckle down and sort your landlord out. With everything else going on in your life, we are sure looking after your accommodation has not even crossed your mind, but it is important to be well behaved tenants because your landlord is holding your deposit hostage. Here are some ways to argue unjustified deposit deductions your landlord has made, and some extra tips on preventing a repeat happening next year.

This Year’s Deposit Return.

We are at the end of the academic year which means most incidents that could result in deposit deductions have already occurred. There is nothing you can do about that except make sure the landlord’s calculations on deductions are fair and justified. Below are some factors you may wish to consider before moving out, and suggestions on how to keep the blow to your deposit as minimal as possible.

  • Cleaning – 57% of deposit disputes are based on the cleanliness of properties at the end of their tenancy, and we all know that student houses are mainly pig-farms, but your house does not have to be one of them. Get together with any housemates you may have and deep clean the whole property before you leave, particularly the communal areas since they see the most activity.
  • Damage – If you have caused some damage to the property or any of the furniture it came with (whether deliberate or accidental), see if you can sort it out without your landlord’s input. Collecting quotes from tradesmen may seem like a hassle, but it is likely to be cheaper to pay for any repairs or replacements yourself than to let your deposit take a hit.
  • Missing Items – Same as above, if something has gone missing from the property which you did not bring when you moved in, replace it yourself rather than let the deposit pay for it. It may well be cheaper.
  • Outstanding Rent – Withholding rent is never a good idea, since then you are not entirely innocent. Pay anything you owe your landlord before your tenancy ends. If you think you have a right to withhold rent for whatever reason, you may have to consider legal support.
  • The Tour – Money is an uncomfortable subject for most people, but you will have to battle through this when your landlord comes to inspect their property. Walk around the house with them and discuss damages or any other issues that may pose a problem. Make an inventory as you go, agreeing on what can come from the deposit and what you can do individually.
  • Receipts – For anything that does come out the deposit, ask to see receipts to make sure you are not being cheated out of pocket. There may have been some miscalculations somewhere along the line, so comb through everything to make sure the required amount from your deposit is not more than necessary.
  • Like-for-Like – This means that if something cheap or second-hand within the property needs replacing from your deposit, your landlord cannot buy something more expensive. Make sure whatever they are buying to replace items averages about the same price as the original.
  • Wear and Tear – Do not let your landlord fool you. Not everything in the property that needs replacing is your fault; broken shower doors, cracked windows and holes in walls? Yes, they are all on you. But worn carpet, faded furniture, creaking chairs and rusty hinges are the landlord’s problem. Anything that disintegrates throughout time or becomes worn down is known as wear-and-tear and should not be coming out of your deposit.
  • Registered Deposit – If you think your landlord is being sly and cheating you out of money, it is always worth making sure they have stayed legal and registered your deposit. This should be confirmed on your tenancy agreement, but you can always check on places such as Shelter too. Places your deposit will be registered include Deposit Protection Scheme, MyDeposits and The Dispute Service. If your deposit is not protected this way, then legal action is required.

Next Year’s Prevention.

Any easy way to avoid disputes regarding money with you landlord is to prevent problems from cropping up. It is easier, cheaper and smoother this way.

  • Maintenance – Maintain a high standard throughout the year regarding cleanliness. By giving the counters a wipe down for ten seconds once a day, the deep clean at the end of the tenancy will not be half as long. Or grim.
  • Report – If anything does occur over the course of the year in which something is damaged or needs replacing, be honest about it and report the incident in writing to your landlord. Send them an electronic copy, a hard copy, and keep a copy for yourself. This way, you cannot be accused of misleading them or dodging payments.
  • Inventory – When you move in, ask your landlord for an inventory of everything inside the property. Check it thoroughly before signing, because if it is inaccurate but you agree to everything on it, you may be liable for payments you are not at fault for. If your landlord does not provide one, draw one up yourself and make sure both of you sign it. Photographs would be useful here too, as proof of what you have and have not done.

We hope this article has been of some use to people struggling with deposit disputes. For more information regarding landlords or tenancy, find other posts on our blog: www.enlightenea.co.uk/blog.

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