If you’re renting a house you’ll undoubtedly have had to put a deposit down, but at the end of your tenancy it can be really difficult to get this back.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking about this. Don’t think it can wait because you’ve only just moved in and you’re not leaving for a year, because by then it will be too late. You need to start thinking about it now and get in the habit of doing the little things that will make your life easier in the long run. We can’t guarantee that you’ll get it all back, but by following these basic tips you’ll stand a much better chance.
Take pictures - now and when you leave. If you have a visual record of the state of the property it will help support your case if there are problems. It’s easy for the mind to play tricks on you and your landlord: you’ll remember it as being in a worse state when you moved in and better when you move out. The landlord will see it as better when you moved in and worse when you move out. A visual reference takes out the guesswork
Read your agreement thoroughly – what are you expected to do? Is a fully repairing lease – that means that you have to carry out repairs. Are you expected to look after the garden or will the landlord provide a gardener? Make sure you know what you are meant to be doing now and do it…that way there won’t be problems later.
Put things away – have a good look around the property and think about what might get trashed or broken and put them away. Those lovely cream rugs won’t stay cream for long, so pick them up and put them in a cupboard. Glass ornaments might look nice, but if you break the landlord’s items you’ll be expected to pay for them – but make sure that you return them to their rightful places when you leave or you could find yourself being charged for them – it’s easy to think something has gone when it’s merely carefully hidden away.
Do the gardening – If you have a garden that is your responsibility, make sure that you cut the grass. Invest in a cheap lawn mower if the landlord hasn’t left you one and get out there and keep it tidy. Don’t leave it until the end of your tenancy, thinking that just a quick blitz will work….because it won’t. If you don’t do it on a regular basis it will get out of hand and will require a proper gardener to come and fix it.
Learn to clean the property properly - not just the very occasional run around with a vacuum and washing up. I mean clean the toilets! Don’t assume that toilets are self cleaning. Put bleach down and scrub on a regular basis. Make friends with the vacuum cleaner. Do the carpet edges and the corners.
Protect floors and furniture – Invest in cheap rugs that can take up the majority of the daily traffic. Rugs might cost a few pence, but not nearly as much as replacing a stained carpet! – and it’s a great way to prsonalise the place with your own style.
If you’re lucky enough to have rented a furnished property, all the better, but you’ll have to be careful how you look after the furniture. One great way of protecting your deposit is to cover the chairs and sofas with cheap throws. The throws will take the brunt of the stains and not the furniture.
Attend to those silly little problems – don’t ignore a dripping tap – it probably only needs a new washer now, but if left it can be a corroded and rusted pipe that needs replacing. That silly drip under the bath can become a major leak or even rot away the floor below. Deal with it now. Get the landlord to sort it if the terms of the lease assume that (mostly landlords are responsible for repairs to the fabric of the house and to existing appliances). If the landlord doesn’t get round to it? (yes they can be remarkably reluctant to get things sorted) – then do it yourself. Don’t know how to do it? Either get somebody in (and deduct it from the rent) or buy a book and teach yourself.
>>Investing in a good basic diy book could save you a lot of money and help ensure that you get your deposit back.
Make friends and Keep in contact with your landlord or their agents. No I don’t mean add them to your Facebook friends - the last thing your landlord wants to see is photographs of riotous parties in their house, or pictures of your mates being sick in the their garden! But do make contact and keep a dialogue going. If you have a problem let them know before it becomes a major issue. They’ll thank you for it.
If it’s just a small issue, then don’t bother them - just deal with it.
Pay your rent on time – Tenants that default on paying their rent are more likely to lose their deposit. Not paying your rent sets up an expectation of someone who’s not taking their responsibilities seriously and not looking after the property. The landlord is then more likely to go into the property when you leave looking for other problems as well. The tenant who pays the rent on time and is confident and courteous is likely to get away with small issues
Don’t just leave a half painted wall and paint on the carpet.
And when you finally leave – clean the house thoroughly. Not just a quick vacuum around the room, but making sure that you clean cupboards, bathrooms, toilets and skirting boards. Better still get a professional cleaner in. A thoroughly clean house goes a long way to getting your deposit back.
- Make sure the garden is tidy
- Look back at your photos and make sure that you’ve replaced any rugs and ornaments that you’ve stored in the cupboards.
- Replace lightbulbs if they’re blown
- Don’t leave any rubbish behind – take it to the tip. A big pile of black bags looks like you don’t care.