Home Leisure & Lifestyle Over 1 in 6 Students Have Trouble Getting Their Tenancy Deposit Back – Expert Explains how To Ensure You Get Yours Returned

Over 1 in 6 Students Have Trouble Getting Their Tenancy Deposit Back – Expert Explains how To Ensure You Get Yours Returned

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Over the next week, many students will be moving out of their first-year student accommodation and into their new places. And with a +136% increase in searches for “how to get deposit back from landlord” understanding rights and responsibilities when entering into a contractual agreement is crucial.

This year, the National Student Accommodation Survey found that the average rental deposit was £263 and 17% of students had trouble getting their student house deposit back. To help students be more prepared, Dan Roberts, director of Mystudenthalls.com explains more about deposits and gives his advice on how you can ensure you get yours back, and what to do if there’s a disagreement at the end of your tenancy.

Student deposit protection

Dan explains: “Most student rentals fall under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), meaning your deposit should be protected by a government-approved tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. In England and Wales, the options are:

  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

“These TDP companies keep your deposit safe and ensure your landlord returns what you are owed at the end of your tenancy. The landlord or letting agent must place your deposit in the protection scheme within 30 days and inform you where it is held. If your landlord is unfair with returning your deposit, you can challenge them through the TDP operator.”

Tips for getting your full tenancy deposit back

Dan provides simple tips you can follow at each stage of the tenancy to ensure deposits are returned in full:

Before you move in

  • Check if your landlord is approved by your university – they will usually keep a list of approved landlords and letting agents.
  • Read your tenancy agreement so that you understand your obligations as a tenant. Some universities and student unions offer free contract-checking services; if not, ask a parent or friend for their advice.
  • Ensure your student deposit is protected with one of the authorised deposit protection schemes.
  • Check the property’s inventory when you move in. This is a comprehensive list of the contents of the house or flat, down to the last teaspoon. Make your landlord aware of any discrepancies between the written inventory and what’s actually in the property.
  • Take photos of the condition of key items in the property such as walls, carpets, the oven, and the lawn – especially any areas that are already damaged. Look for stains, cracks, scuff marks and mould. Record the date of the photos in some way.

During your stay

  • Remain on friendly terms with your landlord. This way, they are more likely to be lenient if you run into an issue.
  • Keep the place reasonably clean and tidy. The best way to do this is to devise a fair rota for cleaning and other chores that all housemates agree on as soon as you move in. Bear in mind that your landlord has the right to enter the property to view its condition, although you must get at least 24 hours’ written notice and inspections must be done at a reasonable time of day.
  • Replace anything you lose or break if it’s not too expensive. Buying another one yourself is likely cheaper than the landlord replacing it when you move out. Make sure you hang on to receipts and other documents.
  • Report problems with the property promptly. If an issue develops – such as a water leak or mould – let your landlord know as soon as possible, take photos and keep evidence of your communication.
  • Keep up with your rent and other bills. Have a budget and review your finances regularly.

When you move out

  • Agree on dates with your housemates for moving out so that you can all do your fair share of tidying and cleaning. Ideally, everyone should be at the final inspection of the property.
  • Invite your landlord around about a week before the final inspection so you can find out if there’s anything that they are unhappy about, and you have time to discuss it.
  • Clean, clean, clean– until everything is in the condition that it was when you moved in. If you’re having a moving-out party, do this a week before so that there’s time to clean up afterwards. Don’t forget the skirting boards, under beds, windows, oven and fridge (plus defrost the freezer).
  • Get rid of rubbish. If it wasn’t in the property when you arrived, you need to get rid of it – leftovers in the fridge, socks in the back of drawers and even the contents of the vacuum cleaner! Some landlords will charge you for things that have been left behind.
  • Take photos of the property once everything is clean and tidy. You can also take a picture of the final meter readings for utilities.
  • Agree on the final inventory with your landlord and keep a copy.
  • Lock up and return all keys to avoid the cost of changing locks. Someone is bound to forget, so make sure you remind everyone (nag if necessary – it’s your deposit that’s at stake). If everyone is leaving at separate times, appoint a bowl near the door to collect each key.

When will i get my deposit back?

Your landlord should return your deposit within ten days of the tenancy ending, provided the property’s condition is satisfactory. If there are deductions, the landlord must discuss them with you, and you can either accept or challenge them through the TDP operator.

What is my landlord allowed to deduct?

Landlords may deduct from your deposit for unpaid rent or property damage, but not for general wear and tear. Any work needed to restore the property to a lettable condition may also be deducted.

Handling disputes

If you’re in dispute over the deposit, the TDP company can mediate. Both you and your landlord will provide evidence, and the TDP operator’s decision is final. If your landlord didn’t use a TDP scheme, you may be due compensation, and you can take your case to your local county court.

Liability for housemates’ actions

Under a joint tenancy agreement, all housemates are equally liable for rent arrears or damage. If you have individual agreements, you’re only responsible for your room and communal areas”

Dan emphasises: “To get your student accommodation deposit back at the end of your tenancy, you must have taken care of the property, including its furnishings and contents, and paid your rent.

While you can decorate and restyle your space, avoid making permanent changes or damaging anything in the property. Be sure to document everything.”

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