The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) has said that one in five (22 per cent) students lost part of their tenancy deposit when they left their accommodation at the end of the last academic year.
UK landlords must protect any deposit they take from renters in case of damage or losses during the course of a tenancy with a third party.
The DPS is the UK’s largest scheme, and says that students arriving at university can drastically improve their chances of receiving their deposit when they leave by acting now.
Julian Foster, Managing Director at The DPS, said:
“Like anyone renting accommodation, students must act responsibly during their tenancies and be aware of both their rights and responsibilities.
“If their deposit is protected, our free Dispute Resolution Service can ensure that they can challenge any deduction they consider unreasonable, and that an independent adjudicator will consider their evidence before making a decision.
“The system also gives landlords a chance to reclaim any costs created by the behaviour of their tenants, so student renters should think and act in a way that prevents damage or other losses from the very first day of their tenancy – not just towards the end of the academic year.”
The DPS says that cleaning (63 per cent) is the common reason cited by landlords claiming part of their tenants’ deposits, followed by damage to property (54 per cent), redecoration (37 per cent), rent arrears (23 per cent), gardening (16 per cent), replacing missing items (16 per cent) and paying outstanding bills (four per cent).
The DPS offers 12 ‘top tips’ on how students can increase their chances of retaining their deposits.
- First and foremost, make sure your landlord protects your deposit with an authorised deposit protection scheme.
- When you move in, agree an inventory with other tenants and return it to your landlord.
- If the landlord is unknown to you, make sure you check their name against your university or student union’s list of approved landlords.
- Remember every tenancy agreement can be different: make sure you read yours and understand your rights and obligations.
- Record all communication with your landlord in writing, particularly any agreements you make, follow up phone calls with what was agreed by email.
- Keep copies of any documents, receipts and email correspondence relating to your tenancy.
- Report any defects with the property promptly and in writing, including the cause of the problem when you can.
- If you ever take photos of problems in the property, make sure they are date stamped.
- Remember your obligations as tenants are likely to be what are known legally as “joint and several”: if one individual tenant does not accept personal responsibility when something goes wrong, such as a breakage, then it becomes the joint responsibility of all the tenants.
- Remember most tenancy agreements stipulate that tenants are liable for damage to communal areas as well as within your own room.
- Remember liability generally extends right until the end of the tenancy: if you move out before other tenants, you could remain jointly responsible for the property.
- Attend the checkout inspection at the end of your tenancy and take your own photographs if necessary.