Moving into your student accommodation is an exciting time; setting up on your own, meeting new people and maybe having the odd celebratory beer or three. Although your student accommodation deposit might not be at the forefront of your mind during these heady days, it is worth bearing in mind and following these handy tips below to ensure you can get your deposit back when your time to leave comes.
First up it’s useful to start by discussing where your money goes once you pay your landlord for your student house deposit.
What’s a deposit protection scheme?
Landlords are required by the government to place their tenants’ deposit into a deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it. It will then be kept there throughout your tenancy and awarded back to you when you move out.
If you find out your landlord has not protected your deposit in the correct way by keeping it in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme (TDP) they are liable in a county court.
What reasons can a landlord keep my deposit?
Firstly, if you don’t meet the terms of your tenancy agreement, which include basic terms such as paying rent and bills whilst living there, your landlord is allowed to keep your student house deposit.
Your tenancy agreement is the contract you sign when you move into your student accommodation and states the expectations of you and the landlord during your time there. It allows you to reside there as long as you follow the rules, as stated in your contract.
As well as the more obvious terms stated in your agreement it will also contain other requirements of both signing parties. For example it may include that it is your landlord’s responsibility to fix and repair any household issues, the notice periods both you and they can give to leave the property, how long you are contracted to live there and what the rent includes (council tax etc).
These are just a few examples, so it is worth reading your agreement thoroughly before signing to ensure you are comfortable with all the terms.
Another reason your landlord could keep your deposit is if your property gets damaged in any way whilst you are there.
Getting your deposit back is a priority – just think of all the things it can be spent on when it is returned to you… With this in mind there are a few things you can do to make getting your full deposit back more likely.
Tips and tricks to get your full student deposit back
There’s lots of things you can do to ensure your student accommodation deposit comes back to you when you leave your housing.
Ask your landlord for a full inventory
First up, ask your landlord for a full inventory when you move in. An inventory is a list that details the conditions of the property. It is a great reference point for you and them regarding the state of the accommodation when you move in and out.
It should contain details and pictures of the space prior to you moving in. Asking for this at the start of your tenancy is useful because it allows you to see how the property looked when you moved in, and will ensure you don’t get blamed for anything that wasn’t your fault when you move out.
Check and Sign Inventory detailing any missing items or damage
Upon receiving the inventory, check through it and make detailed notes on the issues you see around the property and add them to the inventory so your landlord is fully aware of it’s condition. Even if it is not on the list they send you then this is your chance to update it and inform them.
By signing the inventory you are putting your name to a record that everyone within the agreement stands by. From this point, a dispute down the road is less likely because you and your landlord have already agreed about the condition of the property before you move in.
Take photos of any existing damage and general wear
As well as working your way through your landlord’s inventory it can be a great back up for you to make your own record of any wear and tear you see around your accommodation.
Make sure to write some notes around each of the issues you see, whether it’s a dent in the wall or a faulty door. Each detail is valuable and will provide you with evidence to look back on in the event of any issues being raised by your landlord during your tenancy or once you move out.
Let’s be honest – when you are living somewhere it is easy to lose track of how the place looked when you first stepped through the front door. Also when you’ve got yourself settled in, unpacked and added your own personal home furnishing touches it would be understandable to have entirely forgotten what everywhere looked like when it was more bare.
Taking pictures provides you with a collection of images to remind you of your accommodation and gives you some back up in the event there are any queries moving forward.
Email signed Inventory and Photos to your landlord or agent
After making your own records you can email images to your landlord, or agent, so that you are all on the same page about the condition of your accommodation.
Upon sending your photos to your landlord you can ask them to sign it and confirm they are happy with them, as well as your notes. This means you are all then on the same page moving forward.
If you break anything or anything stops working let your landlord know immediately
We all know the phrase ‘honesty is the best policy’ and in this case it really is. Being up front and contacting your landlord in the event of something breaking or stopping working within your student accommodation is the best thing to do.
It may be the case that it is written into your tenancy agreement for your landlord to deal with certain things not working. After all it is the nature of housing systems – sometimes things stop working and need fixing. It is not necessarily going to end up with you not receiving your deposit back.
Ensure all your bills are paid up to date
Another way to stay in your landlord’s good books is to make sure all of your expenses are covered every month. You will have monthly bills to pay from broadband to electricity, as well as your rent. Ensuring these are paid on time and dealt with smoothly means your landlord won’t have any cause to note you down as a problem tenant.
To read more about student utility bills check out our ultimate guide to student bills here.
Ensure your deposit is protected legally
The Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme (TDP), referenced earlier on, is a legal requirement of your landlord and so you, as the tenant, are within your rights to clarify that your student accommodation deposit has been securely stored.
You are entitled, legally, to know the following information within 30 days of paying your landlord your deposit.
They must inform you of the address of the property, how much deposit you have paid, how it is protected and the name and details of the TDP it is being held in. Alongside this information, your landlord must also give you the TDP’s dispute resolution service which you can contact in the event of any queries, as well as all their full name and contact details.
You can also expect to be told details of any other parties that have paid the deposit, why they would retain all or some of the monies, and how you need to apply to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy.
You can also ask for information about what to do if for any reason you can’t get in touch with the landlord at the end of your contract.
Keep your accommodation clean and tidy
It may seem obvious but keeping on top of your space tidiness-wise by not letting the pots pile up and the dust gather is a good tip when thinking about getting your full deposit back.
Put your favourite music on and have a dance and dust marathon on the regular, run the hoover round and give your place a spring clean. It will help your accommodation to remain in a good condition throughout your tenancy and will show the landlord you are respectful of the space.
Aside from this, cleaning regularly will make the space a nice one to live in and keep it in a fresh, liveable condition throughout your time there.
So, to conclude…
Everyone wants their time in student accommodation to be as little hassle as possible and so making sure you are clued up about your student accommodation deposit, by following the tips listed above, is a great way to keep your time low-stress and ensure that when you leave your full deposit ends up back in your pocket.
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