One of the most common causes of conflict between landlord and tenant is the return (or not) of the tenancy deposit and, with the cost of renting ever increasing, these are not small amounts of money. While every landlord is different – from the micro-managing landlord to the extremely hands-off landlord and in some cases the mysterious not-there-at-all landlord – what they all have in common is that they want their property returned to them in a reasonable state at the end of your tenancy.
While you as a tenant may feel that you’ve truly treated their precious property with care during your stay, there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and give yourself the best chance of getting the full amount of your deposit back and avoiding any nasty end of year surprises.
Make sure your check-in inventory is accurate
The first step to getting your deposit back at the end of your tenancy takes place right at the beginning of it. Whether the inventory is carried out by a professional or informally, make sure that it captures the condition of the property accurately when you move in. Take your own pictures, and while it can seem like a lot of effort to go through the whole report, it really is worth kicking up a fuss if it misses something. By the end of the year, your landlord might have forgotten about the stain on the carpet, and without proof that it was already there when you moved in, you could find yourself under pressure to pick up the bill for it.
Try your best to keep the place clean throughout your stay
It sounds obvious, but letting the place deteriorate and just doing one big clean when the tenancy is coming to an end is not the best approach. Damage to appliances like the oven and fridge, mold in the bathroom and marks on walls and floors can get much harder to remove over time. At the very least, in addition to general tidiness, try keeping surfaces generally wiped and clean, and undertaking a proper behind-the-bed type clean every couple of months. If cleaning really isn’t your thing, consider hiring professionals for a one-off clean every few months to ensure that no dirt settles in too far.
Keep your landlord informed of any damage as and when it happens
Standard tenancy contracts provide for a certain amount of normal wear and tear to a property; you do have to live in it after all. Floors and walls might get marked, carpets might get indents from furniture and accidents do happen. If it’s a mistake that changes the condition of the house significantly from the inventory, it’s best to fess up to your landlord or letting agent at the time and work with them to get it sorted. It might cost more to fix the longer you leave it, and at least if you’re still in the house you can keep an eye on how much work really goes into fixing it if you’re going to be charged. It also does wonders to build trust with your landlord and keep your relationship positive.
Accept that the end of tenancy clean is going to cost you some money
In all the excitement and extra costs associated with finding a new place to live, it’s easy to forget about those related to your old place. This might include any final utility bills, for example, and should absolutely include the cost of a professional end of tenancy cleaning (including carpets/windows if that’s stated in your contract). While tempting to do it yourself, you risk wasting your time cleaning the whole property only to find out it’s not to your landlord’s satisfaction and being charged for a professional clean anyway. The bad news is that professional end of tenancy cleaning doesn’t come cheap. The good news is that if it’s done well, the cost will pay for itself when you get the full deposit back a couple of weeks later.
Ask your landlord or letting agent for their recommendations
Getting good value for money on your final clean needn’t involve hours reading cleaning company reviews online and ringing them for quotes. It’s difficult to know without much experience who will do a good job, but your landlord or letting agent will have dealt with professionals plenty of times. They should have some recommendations, and you might even get a discounted rate as one of their tenants. Going with a company recommended by your landlord also has the added bonus of reassuring them that you’re using someone reputable and they shouldn’t have to worry about the quality of the job.
Save any documentation relating to the service
Until you get the deposit back, keep every email exchange, invoice, and receipt relating to the cleaning job and, as ever, take your own photos after the clean has been completed. You don’t know when they might come in useful as proof of the condition you left the property in when you handed your keys back.
This list isn’t exhaustive, and there could be any number of issues that result in deductions from your deposit. However, by following these tips, you give yourself the best chance of maintaining a positive relationship with your landlord and having it returned in full at the end of your stay. Now, to start saving up for that deposit on a house of your own.