Monday, 9 July 2012

The Yorker Archives: Getting your deposit back.

This time of year is one fraught with distress for students. Results are rolling in thick and fast, it’s at least a four month hiatus from all your university friends, student loans aren’t coming in until next October... and for many of us, our delightful landlords are dangling our deposits just out of reach.

As second and third years will now know, getting your deposits back this summer is a very simple process. You have to have not broken or stolen anything. You have to return keys and other bits and bobs back in time. You have to have hired Kim and Aggy, spend seven full days sobbing over a blue-tack mark on your wall, hoovering the ceilings and polishing the underside of your desks. Also, make sure the oven LITERALLY sparkles, the loo could be used to eat your dinner off, and there isn’t a single stray micro-speck of dust floating in the atmosphere of your bedroom. Otherwise, kiss goodbye to that £300.

Students aren’t exactly notorious for their cleanliness. It’s a fact jumped on by landlords, as they fear for the state of the carpets each time they let out a property to a group of scruffy undergrads. Hence the relatively large deposits and the forty-seven page cleaning manual doled out to many tenants at the end of summer term. They’re just worried they’ll have to rehouse all those traffic cones you brought home after nights out all year, or pay for a professional cleaner to get rid of all the kebab mould from the kitchen. Fair enough.

The requirements set out by your landlord in order to return your deposit may seem tantalisingly obscure, but in reality, you needn’t worry too much. Minimise the possibility of any clashes by being sensible and logical when leaving your student home.

  • Put everything they provided you with in the places that they were in on moving in day. That means the Henry vacuum you haven’t used all year and is being used as a bedside table in your room needs to be put back in the utility cupboard. That way, the landlord won’t think you’ve stolen the entire cutlery collection and charge you for it, when in fact it’s all there underneath your bed. 
  • Double check what they expect to be left in the house. This means examining the inventory you should have been given. It can be pretty easy to quickly become attached to certain household items (tin openers that miraculously work, for example), so unless you’re 100% certain that that kettle is yours, you’d be better off cross-referencing the inventory with everything you’re stowing away in the moving van. 
  • Take photos of the house right before you leave. Not necessarily for nostalgic reasons, though I’m sure in twenty years’ time you’ll get a great laugh out of looking at the shower you used to use. Rather, these photographs or recordings will provide you with some kind of proof of how you left the house. If there are any disputes over cleanliness or missing items, then you will be able to consult these pictures. 
Although it may seem like a mammoth task to polish your student digs up into pristine condition, making sure you put a little extra elbow grease in may be the difference between getting your deposit back and being forced to beg your parents for Efe’s money. Also as your deposit should be protected by the Deposit Protection Scheme, any really serious disputes can be taken to them. Happy scrubbing!


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