It’s the end of term. You have your graduation gown ordered, the exams are (FINALLY) over and you’ve got your eye on a shiny new graduate job in the city. There’s just one thing. The elephant in the room. Your deposit. And you’re not going to get it back if you don’t get rid of that stupid elephant. What were you even thinking?!?
Whether it’s money for a new house, a suit for interviews or start-up money for that poodle wrestling business you’ve been planning – you need that cash back. And lucky for you, The SPG is here to help.
1) Your landlord is not your friend
This should be fairly obvious. Your landlord might be a nice guy, they may have even got you a new washing machine after you tried to make mashed potatoes in the old one and blamed it on burglars. But your landlord is not your friend.
It might sound harsh to say, but when you move out, your landlord has one thing that they care about, and that is getting more people into the house with the least amount of work. It sounds harsh, but no-one becomes a landlord out of the goodness of their heart.
However, you can use this to your advantage – make it as easy as possible for them to go “Yep, everything is fine here.” Which brings us on to our next point…
2) Get the formalities right!
Your contract will require you to give a certain number of weeks notice before leaving the property. Make sure you know how long this is and that you give the exact date when you will have left your house by.
Do this in writing. This cannot be stressed enough. In any type of conversation with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (the guys your landlord must legally give your deposit to for safe keeping) a chat you had with your landlord down the pub or a casual text message doesn’t mean anything.
Do yourself a favour and send a formal email to your landlord, followed up by a phone call to make sure they have received it.
3) Light bulbs
Let’s imagine for a second you are going shopping for a few basics. A few light bulbs, Hoover bags. You know, the type of thing a landlord would leave for you. Now let’s imagine you’re not spending your own money, but someone else’s.
Most students don’t mind sitting around in the dark, but before you leave make sure all the light bulbs work. Unless you want your deposit back, minus the cost of half a dozen cripplingly expensive eco-bulbs.
4) You are not a DIY expert
Ok, something has broken. The ancient wooden chair has finally fallen apart, the doorknobs have fallen off, your housemate’s weird Goth friend with the eyelid piercings spilled red wine on the carpet. At least you hope it was wine.
Know your limitations. A lot of the time trying to fix something and hoping it turns out for the best can often make the damage worse and can even be dangerous if you don’t have the proper tools and know what you are doing.
Make sure you know exactly what your responsibilities are in the house. Scrubbing to get a stain out of a carpet is one thing, but fixing a fence that blew over in the wind while your mate repairs the guttering is another.
In general, if you caused the damage, it’s up to you to fix it. But sometimes it’s best to just take this one on the chin and pay for the damages rather than risk life and limb repairing it. Be honest about any damages when asked. That being said, the old rug over a stain on the floor is a classic… Know your limits and stay safe.
5) Take your stuff with you
As much as you think the next people to move into your house would love the copy of Subo’s last album which Auntie Val got you for Christmas, your landlord might disagree.
Hodge-podge kitchen stuff and weird tat is part of student life. Leaving the knives and forks you don’t want any more in the cutlery drawer is probably fine. However, a bag of your old clothes really isn’t. And your landlord really doesn’t look as good as you think they will in your hot pants.
Charity shops are a classic way of getting rid of the various junk that can accumulate over the years of student living. Or if you are too lazy to even do that, a big box with the words “FREE STUFF” on it should help a bit. Www.uk.freecycle.org is a great way to have a clear out and to generate some good Karma. Just don’t get distracted by all the shiny FREE things! Remember, you are trying to get RID of stuff, not get more of it.
Don’t forget, it’s all fun and games until you get a bill with the words “waste disposal fee” at the top.
6) Don’t leave it until the last minute
You will leave it until the last minute. I know it. You know it. Your landlord knows it. But just for a second, let’s pretend you won’t.
If you can, give yourself a few days devoted towards cleaning the house and packing up your stuff. It is a lot easier to pack up a house when you are not living in it, so if you can crash somewhere else, that’s a plus.
7) Be there for the inspection
If you possibly can, be there for the inspection of the property. It’s a lot easier to justify small stains on the carpet, or point out that the lampshade has always been at that wonky angle (you did take pictures at the start of your tenancy, right?) if you are there in person.
8) Know your rights
Finally, and most importantly – know your rights as a tenant. You have paid good money to live in that dump, money which could have been spent on beer. If it all goes pear shaped, speak to your student advice centre. You won’t be the first student this has happened to, and you won’t be the last.