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10 ways to protect your tenancy deposit

When renting a student property, it’s likely that you’ll need to pay a sum of money at the start of the tenancy called a ‘tenancy deposit.’ This sum will cover the costs of any potential damage caused to the property during the tenancy. Unfortunately, however, you’re not always guaranteed to receive the full amount of your deposit back when the tenancy ends, and our research shows that 25% of students that paid a deposit received deductions from the amount at the end of their tenancy.

We’ve pulled together some easy ways to protect your tenancy deposit, both before and during the tenancy, so that you receive back the full amount at the end of the year.

Before you move in

1. Create an inventory

Creating an inventory is a sure-fire way to avoid disputes when it comes to the end of your tenancy agreement and the return of your deposit. It may be that your letting agent or landlord will create an inventory for you prior to move in, but it’s important to go through the inventory they provide and make sure you agree with their notes. Take photos of any existing damage (making sure there’s a date stamp) as this will help clear up any disagreements at the end of the tenancy.

2. Take out tenants’ liability insurance

If you do happen to damage something in the property, your student contents insurance may include tenants’ liability insurance (TLI) as standard. TLI provides cover for if you were to damage the landlord’s fixtures and fittings during the tenancy term. By making a claim to repair the damage under the TLI section of your contents insurance policy, this will mean that the cost of the damage won’t be deducted from your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Whilst you’re living there

3. Try not to use nails in the walls

According to our research, 8% of students lost part of their deposit due to holes in the walls from nails or screws. This is easily avoidable, as there are lots of ways to make your student house feel like a home without making holes in the walls. Mounting strips, white tack and washi tape are all suitable alternatives if you want to place pictures and posters on the walls of your rented home.

4. Keep the garden under control

When living in a student property, it can be easy to forget about the garden – especially if you don’t spend that much time out there over the winter months. However, our research shows that 13% of tenancy deposit deductions were due to an overgrown garden, so this is an easy way to save yourself some money in the long run. If it’s a stipulation of your tenancy agreement to tend to the garden, then your landlord should be able to provide the necessary tools to do so upon request. You might even discover green fingers you never knew you had!

5. Don’t smoke in the property

If you live in a non-smoking house, then make sure to only smoke outside, and encourage your housemates to do the same. It’s amazing the amount of damage smoking in a property can cause, not only to the soft furnishings, but to the walls, ceilings and carpets as well.

6. Open windows occasionally to prevent damp and mould

Unfortunately it’s a well-known fact that a lot of student houses are slightly susceptible to spots of damp and mould. However, this can usually be kept at bay by taking some simple steps to maintain and ventilate the property. Opening the bathroom windows after showering and only airing out wet laundry in well ventilated areas are easy ways to stop mould build up, and to prevent that undesirable damp smell. If nothing else, it’ll make your student house a lot more pleasant to live in if it’s kept in a good state of repair throughout the tenancy.

Before you move out

7. Clean your oven!

After a year of fry-ups, late night pizzas and huge vats of Bolognese sauce, you’ll likely find that the oven in your student house will be in a bit of a state. Take some time to give it a clean before you move out, as our survey showed that 25% of students received deposit deductions due to the oven not being cleaned. Oven cleaner can be purchased from any major supermarket, and is relatively low cost – just make sure to wear rubber gloves, as oven cleaning products can sometimes be corrosive and irritating to your skin.

8. Remove wall marks

If you’ve decorated your student home by blu-tacking up any posters, or if there are any scuffs on the walls, then you will want to remove these before vacating the property. A damp cloth may do the trick, or you may need to buy a small tin of paint just to touch up any rough areas. It’ll save you considerably more money in the long run.

9. Repair or replace any breakages

Not only is it a good idea to repair or replace any broken items in the property so that you get your full tenancy deposit back, but it’s also courteous to leave the property as you found it. It’s likely that the majority of furniture in a student house will be inexpensive (as it’s not uncommon for things to get broken in student accommodations), so a quick trip to the supermarket should do the trick to replace any broken items. And if not, you can stock up on pencils with a road trip to Ikea!

10. Clean the carpets!

Although this isn’t the most fun of activities, our research found that 18% of student lost part of their deposit due to marks on the carpets. If it’s just a few spots here and there, then a can of carpet cleaner should do the trick. If the carpet needs a bit more of a deep clean, then it may be worth splitting the cost with your housemates to have the carpet cleaned professionally.

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