There is an age-old myth that landlords and letting agents will do just about anything to keep hold of your security deposit, and while I’m sure this is the case with some ‘questionable’ individuals, I’ll let you into a little secret– we want to give you as much of your deposit back as possible. The reason for this is simple – the more that is withheld, the more work there is to do! Here at Aquarius Homes we would much rather give you your money back than go through the hassle of arranging repairs, hiring cleaners, writing a deductions report; and all of this in a short timeframe before the next tenant moves in. Its stressful, not particularly pleasant, and we don’t gain anything from withholding a deposit. whilst it is one of my favourite parts of the job to walk into a property at the check-out and see it gleaming, that does require input from you as the tenant. As long as you follow the simple steps below then you should have no problem in gaining your full deposit back (and a glowing reference to go along with it!).
Read your Tenancy Agreement
The majority of contracts will say that the house must be returned in the same, or better, condition as when you moved in, with a clause allowing for ‘fair wear and tear’. But what does ‘fair wear and tear’ actually mean? In general, a few scuffs on the wall, a loose door handle and a naturally worn carpet are expected, seeing as the property has been lived in. However, any repairs (tenant caused), or dirt that needs to be rectified will likely not be classed as fair wear and tear and cause deductions from your deposit. When you move in, and when you’re preparing to leave, thoroughly read through your contract for the things that are more difficult to define who should be responsible for; such as:
· Replacing Lightbulbs/Batteries
· Are things allowed to be put up on the wall – this may leave holes, damage/stains to the paintwork that need to be rectified
· The Garden/External Areas
· Unblocking the Plugholes
· Cleaning the Windows
Your inventory is law
I cannot stress enough how important an inventory is! Any good landlord/agent will provide you with an inventory when you move in, and although extremely tedious, doing a full walk-through with the inventory will massively benefit you later. It gives you a chance to note down any differences you spot, and take photographic evidence, then forward onto your landlord/agent so they can update the inventory. You therefore cannot be charged for any pre-existing fault, and everyone is on the same page when it comes to doing the check-out. Before you leave, do another walk-through with that inventory – this gives you the chance to see any differences you think are your responsibility, and fix them. It will usually be simple things you’ve forgotten to do like dust the lightshades, replace that mug you broke on the first day, and fill in the small holes in the wall you didn’t even realise were there! In most cases it will be cheaper for you to rectify these issues (as long as they’re done properly!), than your agent/landlord hiring someone else to do it, meaning a higher portion of your deposit being kept. Also, massive brownie points for showing you are trying to leave everything correctly!
Clean, clean then clean again
This really is the golden rule of getting your full deposit back - and unfortunately the one that causes the most effort. But be OBSESSIVE! It is so easy to become accustomed to your surroundings that you just don’t see the little areas of grime that you would immediately notice when you first moved in. Annoyingly us agents are a nit-picky bunch and will notice these areas. The most effective way to counter this is to clean throughout the year, however, we realise this may not be as realistic as the more likely scenario of a rushed deep clean 2 days before you move-out. Pay attention to the areas that you don’t view daily – on top of the fridge, the top corners of the room and the edges of doors. These things are easily rectified with a duster and a bottle of Cif (other brands are available) and will mean you are more likely to receive your full deposit back. My top tip with cleaning is to make sure you keep on top of the ‘problem areas’ of a house throughout the year, that are notoriously difficult to get spic and span once the dirt has settled. These are usually:
- The oven and hob
- The bathroom (especially the shower screen)
Keep these areas free from dirt and even if you feel a cleaner does need to be called in to put the finishing touches on a property, it will mean their time spent cleaning will be massively reduced, therefore saving you money.
Remove your unwanted items
Whist I’m all for saving the planet by recycling, upcycling, and just cycling in general, but when moving out of a property leaving your unwanted items in the house is not the way to do it! If you don’t want your set of burnt pans, old sock, or jar of pickled onions from 2011, then the new tenants won’t either. If it is larger pieces of furniture you are planning on leaving, ask your landlord/agent to ask the new tenants if they would like them kept (as it may really help them out), but don’t just presume they want them.
An absolute bug bear of mine is when the bins are left full of rubbish - remember it is your responsibility to make sure that the bins, internally and externally, are left empty at the end of your tenancy, and any excess rubbish is taken with you. Losing money from your deposit to pay for someone to remove the rubbish is very annoying considering it is so easy to do yourself.
Just a final quick note on this point, (sorry I do realise this is just turning into a bit of a rant!), if you turn your freezer off when you leave, please make sure all food has been removed. Because believe me when I tell you the smell of raw chicken is extremely difficult to remove – from both the property and your agent’s memory!
Return you Keys
A very easy thing to forget to do as you are so used to making sure you have them on you at all times, and there is no other simple solution than just remembering to hand back/leave all your keys – including back door, shed and window keys. Simple.