Getting Your Deposit Back – Tips and tricks

As students it can be a daunting task preparing your property for the end of a lease, particularly if you’re worried about getting your deposit back.

You may have heard some nightmare stories about landlords suddenly charging for a whole number of issues that were never brought to light throughout the duration of the lease, or landlords never actually returning the deposit and claiming the property was in need of a good cleaning. Thankfully these stories are normally in the minority, but it is always good to be sure.

In general, if you have been respectful, clean tenants throughout the duration of the lease, you should experience little difficulties in getting your deposit back. However if you have any doubts, or your relationship with your landlord has been under strain or has been questionable throughout the lease, it is always a good safety measure to enlist in the help of solicitor or surveyor who will be able to give you professional advice. Here are a few top tips on helping make sure that you get your deposit back in its entirety.

Better Safe than Sorry

If you are unsure it is always better to be meticulous and safe about your cleaning. See if you can get the help of a professional cleaner to go through the property, or work through the property room by room to make sure that nothing is missed. Throw out any rubbish and store away anything that you took out of storage for the duration of the lease.

If you have added any furniture to the property during your stay, it might be a good idea to get rid of it or take it with you as some landlords can be a bit irritable when it comes to leaving furniture behind. If you’re not that bothered about keeping it, see if you can band together to rent a skip or drop it off at the dump in a car (if you have access to a car).

Getting Everyone Involved

Cleaning only really works when all the tenants are involved. Some members of the household may be aware of certain ‘dirty’ spots and they may be loath to tell everyone else (don’t ask us why). So by getting everyone involved in the cleaning of the property, a more thorough job is done, everyone inspired in a group and best of all, the job gets done much faster!

Taking Photos

It is important to take photos of the property at the start of the lease so that you have those photos to compare with the property at the end of the lease. Memories can be unreliable so if there are any large or worrying defects at the start of the property, including stains, dents in furniture, scratches etc. and you have is physical evidence that they were there at the start of the lease then your landlord cannot reasonably deduct anything from your deposit as a result of those defects.

Make the Landlords Aware

If you find any defects in the property, any cracks in the wall, stains or mould growing make sure to make the landlord aware. This goes throughout the entire tenancy, not just at the end of the lease. If the landlord is made aware of a problem early on, they have a duty to repair it during your tenancy or suffer consequences. However if the landlord notices these issues following the end of a lease, the charges may be put to you as the current tenants. It is far better to make them aware as soon as possible to avoid potential repercussions.

At the end of the day, it can be a pain if you have difficulty getting your deposit back from your landlord, but if you honestly feel as if some part of the deposit has been unfairly retained, you could always try and contest it. In some cases it may not be worth the hassle (we once had £8 deducted for ‘failing to clean the skirting boards) but if you truly feel as if you’re been conned, there are proceedings for that. Just make sure you are meticulous in your research and always take photos!

Article provided by Gowers Surveyors; an ISO9001:200 accredited firm of Chartered Surveyors based in Cambridgeshire, offering a range of services that are consistent with quality standards approved by The Lord’s Register of Quality Assurance.

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