It’s that time of year where a lot of you will find yourselves moving on, whether that be to a new student home, the world of employment, a beach in Thailand for you travellers, or if you’re anything like I was back in the day, back to your hometown with no idea what happens next (nothing wrong with it).
The one thing all of you will have in common is the need to get your deposit back from your landlord. Now, hopefully this will be a smooth process and you’ll get that big lump of cash straight back into your account, but just in case there are some complications, we’ve written some tips below on how to get it sorted.
Before You Leave the Property
Cleaning. Before you leave the property, make sure that you are leaving it in the same condition you found it. A lot of tenancy agreements have a clause hidden away that states you must have the property cleaned to a professional standard before you hand it back. So either get the marigolds out or hire a cleaner for a few hours if you can’t be bothered.
Take photos! Make sure to photograph the property in the condition that you leave it in. It takes five minutes and can be really useful if you get into a dispute about a stained carpet or something later on.
Check Out Inventory. At the very start of your tenancy you should have completed/been provided with a check in inventory. Ask the landlord to complete a Check Out Inventory with you so you're both on the same page.
Asking for your Deposit Back
Normally, your landlord will automatically give you your deposit back without you having to do anything. However, if you haven’t received any communication from them by your move out date, you should write to them via email or post to ask for your deposit back. You can find a good template for this letter/email on the Shelter Website.
Landlords or Agents can only take money off your deposit for good reason, the main ones being you owe rent, you’ve damaged the property (for example the aforementioned stain on the carpet or mark on the walls), or you’ve lost/broken some items from the inventory.
They cannot take money off for what is called ‘reasonable wear and tear’. This means things that gradually get worse or need replacing over time, for example paintwork, or a piece of furniture.
Your landlord or letting agent should tell you why they're taking money off. Ask them to give you their reasons in writing - that way you can refer back to them if you need to take action to get your deposit back.
If you want more information about the money your landlord or letting agent wants to take from your deposit, ask them:
Why they’re taking the money.
How they worked out how much to take off your deposit. For example, if they've taken money off to replace something you damaged, you can ask to see a quote to prove how much the replacement cost.
If you still can't agree with your landlord, there are things you can do to get your deposit back:
If you are, like the majority of students, on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) then legally your deposit must have been placed in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). You should have been provided the information about which TDS it has been placed in at the start of your tenancy. If you have forgotten, check your tenancy pack/agreement. You can challenge any deductions through the scheme if you think they're unfair.
Each deposit protection scheme has a free dispute resolution service that:
Once the scheme has all the evidence, it can take 1 month or more for a decision.
If you are planning to use this service, tell your landlord. They may try and solve the situation before the formal process goes ahead.
We hope this helps. If you would like any more information or if you require any advice about deposits, please contact the SU Advice Service using the details below and we will be happy to discuss any issues with you.
Blog written by Laurence Mackavoy.
Laurence works as an Advice Caseworker in the LSESU Advice Team.
The LSESU Advice Team
The LSESU Advice Team is based on the 3rd floor of the Saw Swee Hock Building and we provide free, independent and confidential advice to all LSE students on academic and housing matters. We also administer the Hardship Fund, the Childcare Fund and the Graduation Gown Support Fund (GGSF).
Our service is currently operating using a hybrid working pattern. We are still open and can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also book a telephone or Zoom appointment with an adviser through Student Hub.