Everything you can do as a student to protect your deposit when moving into a uni house

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls know their tenancy rights

When moving into a new uni house, you’re faced with the inevitably that you are going to lose some of your deposit. Students are notorious for damaging or dirtying their houses and being charged at the end of the year. It’s something we’ve all worried about and if you haven’t said the phrase “I’m not paying for it” at least once whilst living in your uni house, then you’re lying.

In my second year uni house we threw a 100+ people party where someone fell down the stairs and brought the banister with them. Needless to say our landlord was not best pleased about that one and we were charged nearly £1k for the damages. So please learn from me and don’t make the same mistakes. But how can you actually avoid being charged at the end of year? This is everything you can do when moving into a uni house to protect your deposit:

Start on a good note

Establishing a good relationship with your landlord from the start of your tenancy will go a really long way. When we went to collect our keys we gave our new landlord a bottle of wine (it was literally £4 from Sainsbury’s) but the gesture was appreciated.

Landlords have a bad rep and it can be easy to be wary and apprehensive of your new one from the start but putting in even a little bit of effort to establish a relationship that is anything other than hating each other’s guts will really pay off in the long run. Look I’m not saying you should buy your landlord a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates but I’m also not saying that.

Actually read your contract

Gorgeous, gorgeous girls know their tenancy rights. It’s all well and good complaining your landlord has screwed you over but you don’t actually have a leg stand on if you haven’t read your contract. I know it’s a huge boring document but sit down with a cuppa, or a beer, and force yourself go through it. Highlight all the important bits that might impact you getting your deposit back and send it to your housemates as well – hold everyone accountable.

Photograph everything, and I mean EVERYTHING

It’s so easy on the first day of moving into your new house to become overwhelmed with excitement and completely forget about taking photos of your room before you start to unpack. But take pictures of absolutely everything. Chip in the paint from Blu Tack? Take a photo. Tear in the carpet? Take a photo. This way when you move out, your landlord can’t try to charge you for pre-existing damage from previous tenants they didn’t bother to fix.

Even if you’re a month into living at the property and you spot some damage you hadn’t seen before, take a photo and send it to your landlord. The more photographic evidence you have, the better.

Communicate in writing

It’s all well and good getting flustered and annoyed about all the ways your landlord is screwing you over but without any actual proof it’s genuinely not worth the effort. When it comes to their word against yours, we all know how that story goes. So you need to make sure you have absolutely everything in writing.

Your landlord has promised to fix the leaking roof? Get it in writing. They’ve promised to replace the broken lock on your side gate? Get it in writing. They’ve promised to replace your disgusting fridge that smells like something’s died in it? You know the drill: get it in writing. Landlords love a phone call so try your absolute best to transfer the communication to a written platform instead such as text or email. But if a phone call is unavoidable or you’ve spoken to your landlord in person, send a follow up text where you get them to confirm what you’ve agreed to so they have no deniability.

Tidy up as you go, you’ll thank yourself later

Picture the scene: you’ve got an early start in the library and you’ve decided to make porridge for your breakfast to get some of that slow release energy to keep you fuelled throughout the day. The buzzer goes off and you open the door to find the porridge has spilled over the bowl and is now coating the floor of the microwave.

It’s so tempting to just close the door and leave it as a problem for future you to resolve but trust me, clean it up now. The dirtier and grimier you let things build up, the more you’ll hate yourself at the end of your tenancy when you’ve got to do a massive clean in one go. It also makes it more likely things will get permanently stained – your deposit is crying.

I’m begging of you not to use any Blu Tack

University is a time for self expression and a big way people choose to express themselves is through their room decoration. If you were anything like me, you had a Pinterest board of uni room decoration inspo months before you started your first year.

Whilst it is so tempting to get stuck right in and start decorating as soon as you move in, think twice before using Blu Tack. I know it’s the most convenient way of pinning your disposable camera pics of you and your sixth form friends to your wall but it stains like there’s no tomorrow. When it comes to the end of the year and you take everything down, you’ll be punching yourself when you find your walls have got a new polkadot design that wasn’t there when you moved in. Command hooks are a great alternative as they don’t damage your walls and can hold up your tribal-print wall tapestry in a way Blu Tack can only dream of.

Use preventative measures for parties

Students are going to throw parties and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. But house parties are the guiltiest offender of ruining your chances of ever seeing your deposit again, that’s why it’s crucial to anticipate what antics people might get up when your small gathering of just your mates inevitably gets out of hand.

Putting down painters tarp or dust sheets will prevent your carpets from getting absolutely wrecked and covered in spilt beer. Lock away anything and everything that belongs to the house that could potentially get damaged into a room that isn’t being used for the party.

Don’t wait to bring up issues

As a tenant living in the house it is your responsibility to tell your landlord of any issues relating to the property. You may just think the mould that is slowly spreading across the four walls of your bedroom is a must-have feature of any uni house but it can be an expensive fix.

Failure to promptly tell your landlord as soon as you notice issues could cause the problem to get worse and cost your landlord a lot more than if they were to have nipped it in the bud, resulting in a deduction to your deposit.

Open your windows once in a while

Uni houses are notorious for being freezing cold so the idea of opening your windows might seem delusional but it has some benefits as the other thing uni houses are renowned for is mould.

Mould loves damp places so air circulating throughout your house will do wonders for the prevention of any mould in the first place and the prevention of it spreading if you’ve already got some delightful spores climbing up your walls.

If you’re having troubles with your deposit, housing charity Shelter has loads of advice, or you can contact the charity here.

Related articles recommended by this author:

• PSA: It’s illegal for your uni landlord to charge you cleaning fees

• Students share the dumb and pointless things in their uni houses that just make sense

• This law student used his degree to sue his landlord – and WON