If you have ever rented a home privately, you will know that landlords will often look for the slightest problems in order to hold onto a deposit. If you’re prepared for this eventuality when you move into your home, you stand a reasonably good chance of getting your cash back when you move on.
There are a few tips that should increase your chances of getting your damages deposit back in its entirety.
Take your own inventory
A lot of landlords will add a detailed inventory to a rental agreement — which you have to sign. This is a legal document, so you need to be certain it’s above board and accurate before you sign on the dotted line.
Never take the landlord’s word for anything. Before you sign, take your own detailed inventory, so you can compare it with the landlords. Everything that’s not fixed or attached is usually listed on this kind of inventory, including kitchen appliances, furniture, utensils and curtains. If there are discrepancies, make sure your rental agreement and the official inventory is adjusted accordingly.
Nothing is too small to be on an inventory, so don’t forget to count smaller items such as cutlery, pans and lamps.
Create a photo library
Before you sign anything, ask for one last look around the property. Take your phone with you, and take photos of everything listed on the inventory. Next, take detailed photos of every room, from every possible angle. This is when you need to be looking for existing problems, such as rips in carpet and scratches on wooden floors. If the landlord tries to blame you for these issues, you’ll have irrefutable evidence that you’re not to blame.
Get assurances that your deposit is protected
There is a law in place in all parts of the UK that protects the damages deposit of tenants. The money you hand over as a deposit cannot be banked by the landlord. Instead, it needs to be held with a third-party in a form of escrow. The scheme used to hold your money must be a government-approved one.
You are entitled to your money back at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy unless you broke the terms of your contract, damaged the property or fell into rent arrears. But because the money is held with a third party, the landlord must provide proof that one of these events has occurred. You will get the chance to state your case before any money is released.
Of course, you never know what life has in store. While you might take extra care to avoid damage, accidents can strike at any time. If you do cause damage, the best policy is always to contact your landlord immediately. Never try to fix the damage yourself, and never call out a contractor that hasn’t been approved by your landlord. If your deposit covers the damage, you can both agree to use it for the repairs.
Clean the property from top to bottom
Once you have moved all of your stuff out of the property, your final job should be to clean it thoroughly. You have two options: do it yourself or hire a professional cleaning service. However, if you’ve taken care of the property and stuck to a strict cleaning schedule, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself.
The aim is to give your landlord absolutely nothing to complain about. This means you should prepare and schedule for a deep clean. You’ll need a full complement of cleaning materials, a plan of action and the help of friends or family.
The two most important items you can have when it’s time to clean your rented property are a vacuum cleaner and a steam cleaner. Make sure your vacuum is powerful, bagless and cyclonic — which will all deliver great results and make the job at hand easier. You steam cleaner can be used to clean almost anything, including your carpets when you have the necessary attachment.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that the damages deposit is still yours until proven otherwise. As long as you look after the property and take the necessary precautions, there’s no reason suspect you won’t get it back.