Sheffield-based student accommodation provider Dove Properties have put together this guide to help make students aware of things they can do to help ensure the return of their deposit at the end of their tenancy:
Phase 1 – Searching for a House
1. Buddy Up Wisely
It’s really important to pick the right housemates to share your student accommodation with. Once you’re locked into your contract, there’s no going back. If you live with people that aren’t bothered about looking after the property, then you could end up paying for it out of your deposit further down the line.
2. Pay Attention to the Tenancy Agreement
Before signing up for a property, you have to read the Tenancy Agreement properly. It’s important to fully understand what you’re signing up for with the landlord/estate agent in question. Don’t let the excitement of getting the house detract from the details.
Phase 2 – Making the Move
3. Check the Inventory
An inventory is essentially a checklist of damages to the property in question. It should be used by the landlord and tenants at the start of a new tenancy to record the state of the property. Both parties need to agree to its contents so that it can be referred to when you move out. If one isn’t provided, be sure to mention it.
4. Deposit Protection
Landlords must place your student accommodation deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, which has been the case in the UK since a law was launched in 2007. When you move in, make sure you ask for proof that your deposit has been registered with one of the following 3 services:
• Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured)
• Tenancy Deposit Scheme (Custodial and Insured)
5. Can I Hang Posters?
An age-old cause of contention between landlords and tenants, the issue of whether it’s okay to hang things on the walls of the property you’re renting should be clarified right at the start of your tenancy. This way, you’ll know if you need to accept paying damages if you do choose to hang things.
6. Pick A Good Lead Tenant
It’s imperative that you choose a lead tenant who you know is responsible. They will prove key to you getting your deposit back and you don’t want to be stuck with someone who disappears when a tenancy ends. We’ve seen this happen and it makes getting your deposit back much more problematic.
7. Get On Top Of Bills
Make the process of paying bills as simple as possible for you and your housemates. You want to avoid any disputes with utility providers where possible, as you will all be liable for an issue deemed to be your own doing. Consider nominating a responsible person and/or setting up a joint bank account.
8. Double-Check the Tenancy Agreement
When you move in, make sure you give the Tenancy Agreement another once-over. This will help to highlight anything you need to be aware of during your stay in the property.
Phase 3 – During the Tenancy
9. Photograph Any Damage
If any damage occurs to your property during your stay, make sure you report it immediately. When you do, take photos with date stamps to prove exactly what level of damage there was at the time you reported it.
10. Deal With Problems Together
Signing a tenancy agreement means entering into a joint contract with your fellow housemates. In almost all cases, this means you will all become responsible for any issues that arise. That means that if damage occurs to a communal area outside your bedroom for example, you’re responsible too. In legal terms, problems are allocated as ‘joint’ or ‘several’, depending on whether one person is prepared to accept responsivity.
11. Don’t Ignore Heating
You might feel like avoiding the use of heating is the best way to save money as a student, but you could actually be doing more harm than good in the long run. You don’t need it on all the time, but it’s worth using from time-to-time to avoid issues like damp spiralling out of control. These can lead to dark patches on your wall that could prove problematic for the return of your deposit. If you do notice damp despite the use of heating, mention it to your landlord immediately.
12. Think About Guests
It’s natural that you’ll want to enjoy your time as a student and parties are part-and-parcel of the lifestyle. Be careful about hosting one of these yourself though, as they can often lead to property damage. If you do have people round, consider keeping things more low-key. If your house becomes party central you’re likely to pay for it further down the line.
13. Don’t Ignore Cleaning
Putting a basic cleaning schedule in place might sound ridiculously dull, but it’ll help avoid the property you’re renting getting in a state. You don’t want mould to develop, whilst if you’re property is always dirty when your landlord comes round it won’t do your reputation any favours.
14. Lock Up!
Leaving student accommodation unlocked isn’t a habit you want to be getting into. From people coming in from nights out somewhat worse for wear, to basic carelessness, you really need to ensure you lock the property. If there’s a break in which didn’t require forced entry, you’re going to shoulder the blame.
15. Record Communications
You’ll need to communicate with your landlord throughout the tenancy, so make sure you keep a record of any communications you have. This will help you to source any key information required in the event of any disputes.
16. Invest in Developing A Relationship With Your Landlord
Whilst you’re renting a property, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to develop a great relationship with your landlord. Some things you can do to encourage this include:
• Paying rent on time
• Treating the property with respect
• Promptly raising any issues
• Helping to make viewings as easy as possible, as long as you’ve had appropriate notice
• Keeping the property clean
Obviously the relationship needs to work both ways. If you stick to the above, any reasonable landlord will be happy.
Phase 4 – Approaching the End
17. Create a Checklist & Conduct A Deep Clean
As the end of your tenancy approaches, it’s worth you and your housemates getting together to create a checklist of everything that needs doing. Once you’ve made a note of anything that needs to be cleaned and sorted, muck in together and do a deep clean. This will help when the handover comes around. Bear in mind that you’re all responsible for the state of the property, even if someone moves out early.
18. Do a Preliminary Check
After you’ve done the deep clean, it can be worth inviting your landlord over for a preliminary check. Most reasonable student accommodation landlords will be happy to do this and mention anything that still needs sorting before you move out.
Phase 5 – Moving Out & Handing Back the Keys
19. Make Sure All Bills Are Paid
When you move out, you absolutely must ensure that all the bills are paid. This is your responsibility and no-one else’s. Contact all utility providers on the day you move out to ensure you have records up to date. Afterwards, provide your landlord with proof of settlement to cover your back.
20. Check and Chuck
When moving day comes around, make sure you do some rigorous checks around the property. Don’t leave anything behind and make sure that any rubbish at all is chucked. The finest details are important – remember thinks like emptying any bins and clearing the fridge.
21. Don’t Forget to Return the Keys
Finally – don’t forget to return your keys! If you don’t, the landlord may be forced to change the locks and you’ll ultimately foot the bill.
Dove Properties offer a superb range of student accommodation in Sheffield, in key areas of the city including: Ecclesall Road, Broomhill and the City Centre.