University: Getting your Deposit Back

When we left our second year house, we had a long list of what we ‘should’ do to ensure we got our deposit back. I say ‘should’ as sarcastically as possible – because who has the time or the inclination to wipe down skirting boards?!

 photo 72c042eb_original_zpstyxwkerj.jpgIn all seriousness, being generally clean and tidy throughout the year is probably enough to get your deposit back. But there are a few little extras that don’t take too long to do, will make the house seem extra-sparkly and probably improve a future tenant reference. This year I’ve rented a room in a private house and this is what I’ll be doing to make sure I get my deposit back – it’s probably a bit more than I’d do for a student house, but I have lived in a room 10 steps away from my landlady’s since last July.

As a side-note, I’ve realised I’ve lived in this room longer than anywhere since I started university in 2012 – it’s been an odd experience, but I’m going to be rather sad to leave!

Take Photographs Before and After

In my university halls I was threatened with a fine when I moved out due to the state of the shared areas (see my post about nightmare housemates!) – it always pays to argue if you feel this is unfair. I did, and didn’t pay a penny. I’d advise taking detailed photos when you move in and out, just in case.
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Wash Provided Fabrics

I was provided with bed linen and lots of cushions this year, and all will be bunged in the washing machine (most machines have a gentle or hand-wash setting that’s perfect for cushion covers). A sprinkle of Vanish pre-wash on any suspicious looking marks and after a spin they’ll be like brand new.

Trust me, this stuff works. I’ve had a worrying stain on a cushion from a pair of boots – the boots were clean, but brand new and the rubber sole left black marks. I’ve since treated it with Vanish and yep, stain has vanished.
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Have an Extra Long Hoover

This is going to be a tough one for me to stomach – I live with three dogs and despite hoovering a couple of times a week I feel my carpet is always hairy. And that’s with the dogs not entering the room. Before I leave I plan on sprinkling the carpet with Bicarbonate of Soda, then hoovering for a good three times longer than I would normally. The bicarb freshens everything up and absorbs odours – I love it as a natural way to clean.
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Empty Kitchen Areas

Make sure you take or throw away any unwanted spices, plates, etc. Once the cupboards and fridge are empty, clean them. Wiping down a fridge always makes it smell and look so much better – and it doesn’t need to take long. I always use a half a fresh lemon first to cut through any grease and add a nice odour, then just some warm water.

Make sure you clean the oven too – and don’t skimp on the product. Buy proper oven cleaner (Oven Pride is by far the best I’ve used), and follow the instructions. You’ll need far less elbow grease!

Dust Everywhere

It’s amazing how much dust gathers on areas you don’t see. I’m not tall enough to see my top shelf, yet when I wear heeled boots I can – and I always realise that it needs dusting. When you move out stand on a chair and dust everywhere. I’d suggest wafting a duster around ceilings too to remove.
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Clean Carpets

This doesn’t need to involve one of those expensive hired machines, just a bit of Vanish spray and a cloth. I always have a cup of tea in bed each morning and quite often drip a little onto the carpet (clearly not awake enough!). A spray of Vanish, a quick wipe and it looks like new.

Check Tenants Responsibilities

It could be that you are responsible for bits that you would otherwise forget. My friends are preparing to move out of their current student house and realised they had full responsibility to get the garden in a suitable state – without having been supplied with even a lawn mower. It costs around £20 to have a simple garden tidied up – and if that gets you back a deposit worth several hundred each that’s money well spent.
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Be a Good Tenant

Being a good tenant throughout your agreement is a surefire way of getting your deposit back. Be polite, agreeable and easy to deal with. Offer to make small improvements yourself – our second year hob was cleaner when we moved out than when we got there thanks to some elbow grease. By keeping things clean and tidy for mid-tennancy inspections you will definitely improve chances of getting your deposit back.

Do you have any tips for getting a rental deposit back? Have you ever NOT got your deposit back?

  • Siobhan Rothwell

    I remember last year my flatmates and I spend ALL DAY cleaning the flat from top to bottom for the letting agent to come in and just be like “okay, looks good, bye” without even really checking anything! But at least is was cleaned I guess


    • ninegrandstudent

      Wow, that sounds unusual – I’ve never known any agents not to properly check! x

  • These are really handy tips, I didn’t know about the bicarb and vacuuming one, I’ll definitely be doing that when we move out of our current house. I’m quite lucky in that I’ve only ever lost a deposit when I was at university in Halls, because someone left a load of turf outside out flat, so the university charged us, even though we had nothing to do with it >.<

    Rachel x

    The Inelegant Wench

    • ninegrandstudent

      I definitely wouldn’t have been impressed with that! x

  • Great tips, thanks for sharing!

    • ninegrandstudent

      No worries, thanks for visiting! x

  • These are really great tips! I remember when I moved out of my uni halls and they tried to fine me for a stain on my carpet where water had leaked from the ceiling – had to really fight them about that because it was nothing to do with me! x

    Josie’s Journal

    • ninegrandstudent

      Hope they didn’t fine you in the end! I got lucky in that I moved out of halls as the cleaner had finished so I got her to sign off that I had gone and tidied/cleaned everywhere before I left – god knows what state it was in a week later! x

  • Embouteillage/Atasco

    This is such a helpful post for me, our agency is a real pain and even came to the house to get evidence of things that could stop us getting our deposit back for! so so cheeky, student agencies really aren’t great..

    • ninegrandstudent

      I think that’s quite normal – they have to inspect at the end of tenancy! x

  • Another quick add-on: make sure those photographs you take are dated! s in, with the date setting on the camera. It’s as ailly little thing but can really help prove your case if your landlord and/or agency are being horrid about damage you KNOW you didn’t cause. xx

    • ninegrandstudent

      Oh definitely, no use having photos that aren’t dated! x

  • Jennifer K

    Get your parents in to clean! We did this when moving out of our second year house and they were there when our landlord arrived to check us out of the property. It’s easy for a landlord or agency to be picky and take advantage of a group of students – but a bit harder to take on four or five parents who’ve also been cleaning all day!
    Since then though we have actually grown up a bit more 🙂 I’m in the process of getting our house ready for moving out, seeing as we have exams until the day before our tenancy finishes. Big tasks like cleaning the oven (with the amazingness that is Ovenmate), defrosting the freezer and deep cleaning the fridges are all done a few weeks in advance, and now it’s just a case of wiping up after ourselves (some of the house are better at this than others…)
    And get rid of all your rubbish, and that might mean visiting the dump. Last year we got charged for excess rubbish being left outside the house. I still don’t know if this was actually us (I wasn’t the last to leave the house), or whether it came from somewhere else.
    Jennifer x

    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • ninegrandstudent

      Having parents round is such a good tip! Shame about your fine though… x