Whether it’s your first year renting a property or you’re used to the game, there are still a few hints that can help you make the most of it. One of the biggest costs of renting a student house is the deposit payment, which can be a hefty sum for a student and usually 4-6 weeks rent. Although there is no guarantee that these will make sure that you do get your deposit back, here are 10 tips for helping you along the way.
1) Lights, camera, action!
You’ve probably heard it before but the best thing to do once you start renting the property is to arm yourself with a good camera, walk into the property and photograph EVERYTHING. It will take a while, and it’s better if you have photos with date and time stamping just to be extra careful, but this does mean you’ll have evidence for the condition of the property when you started living there.
2) Reporting for duty
Yes, it’s fiddly and takes an age to fill out thoroughly but you’ll be glad you did take that time to complete the Entry Condition Report if something is broken and you get blamed for it. This way, you’ll have notified the landlord of any issues and at the same time, made sure that it can’t be blamed on you. For extra caution, ask to keep a hard copy for yourself, signed and dated by the landlord.
3) Spring cleaning
Although it doesn’t seem like much, if you take a little time every so often to clean around the flat, it’s going to make things much easier for you and your friends in the long run. Set a rota, or a date that you do a big clean of the property. Piggybacking on the cleaning tip, make sure that you target those forgotten spots. Whenever you clean, try and picture the flat like you’re seeing it for the first time. Small things like skirting boards, the top of the fridge and behind the sofa can easily be forgotten, and unfortunately, they’re also the areas which could cost you some of your deposit at the end of the tenancy.
4) Read and repeat
Every landlord is different, and may have different terms in the contract you sign. One landlord may allow a pet, whilst another won’t. Candles may be allowed, but then again, maybe not. It’s always best to check these things before, otherwise you may end up violating a condition that you had no idea about.
One of the worst problems that could cost you your deposit is the dank, black mess that begins to appear in the corners of your room. It’s especially bad if you have to dry your clothes indoors, if you’re not lucky enough to have scored a tumble dryer along with the property. The best thing to do is to make sure you air all the rooms out regularly, especially if there’s one room specifically that is used for drying. One of the best ways to remember is if you’re hanging clothes out, open the windows in that room for a good while. If you still happen to spot the black menace, tackle it ASAP with some disinfectant wipes and pick up a box of Damp-Trap Dehumidifier from your nearest pound shop. That’s guaranteed to get all the water out of the air.
6) Release the B&Q in you
If you’re anything like most students, you want to make the room you’ve got a bit more….you. So you stuck a few posters up, maybe a calendar, your schedule, little things here and there to help you throughout the year. And it’s all good until it’s time to take it down and you’re suddenly left with patches of paint missing on your wall. Even something that small can cost you your deposit, or part of it. One of the easiest ways of solving this is to pop down to your nearest DIY shop and pick up a tester pot of paint in the closest colour you can find. Most rental properties will be painted one colour, and usually it’s a pretty generic colour. Once you’ve got that, make sure you test the colour first on a very small unseen area and let it dry before testing it anywhere else. Just to make sure the colour matches. Cover up any spots which need covering, and that’s another obstacle cleared.
7) Email buddies
If something does break, or isn’t working properly, let your landlord know immediately. If you don’t, you could end up being blamed for it. If you want to be extra cautious, send them an email with a read receipt as well as/instead of calling them. That way, you’ll know when they’ve read it but you’ll also have evidence that a) you notified them and b) that they know you notified them. Of course, make sure you keep these emails and receipts saved until your tenancy is over. You never know if you’ll need them by the end of the contract.
8) House party… somewhere else
Although house parties are fun and it’s always convenient when you don’t have to walk or taxi home, the clean-up can cause massive issues with your deposit. Even if the clean-up doesn’t bother you, there’s no guarantee that things won’t get a little out of hand and you may end up with something broken beyond repair.
Before you leave the property for the final time, do a last minute check around the entire property. This is not only to make sure that nothing has been forgotten but also that there is nothing to be cleaned, fixed or sorted that the landlord may find later and charge you for. Whilst you’re doing this, check all the windows and doors are closed and secure as well. The last thing you want is to lose your deposit because the property wasn’t secure and someone trashed it after you left. If you’re really paranoid about making sure you can’t be blamed for anything, get snap-happy again with the camera and photograph the flat again for extra evidence.
10) No more mister nice guy
One last word of caution. You may got on very well with your landlord, having a laugh or maybe he always sorts things out for you. But there’s no guarantee that at the end of the year, it’ll be the same. It’s always good to remain on good terms with your landlord; it keeps things running pretty smoothly. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry if there’s a Jekyll and Hyde moment as a surprise….