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Hoovers, heroics and hope: How to not be exploited by your landlord

Months of conflict over a Henry Hoover

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Everyone hates moving out of their student house. Goodbye fond memories. Goodbye expensive deposit. My housemates and I were recently charged over £500 for "damages" when we moved out last year…but for what?! The Mexican hat hanging up in the hallway? The random nails that had supposedly been hammered into the walls? I think not.

Although we've all probably had a similar situation to this, we normally just moan a bit, lose our deposit and move on. But is there anything we can actually do to avoid these situations in the first place?

Unleash your inner photographer

The initial inventory is an incredibly tedious and tiring task (and will probably make your housemates think you're a bit weird), but don't ignore it. Make sure it's up to date and right, a.k.a make sure you tell them that there's a wobbly bookshelf so that you don't get charged for it later. Take a video or some photos, embody your inner David Attenborough and narrate your journey around your house. Wow the listener as if narrating the journey of a stealthy jungle panther, informing them of every concern you might have regarding the state of specific items. Know that you don't have to put up with it – I've had to remove broken hangers and condoms before – grim.

Don't be a hero

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A photo of me retrieving a new fluffy rug for my student house

Don't do stuff yourself if it's not your job. Don't take one for the team, don't be a hero. You have far more important things to do, like drinking trebs and avoiding your deadlines. Although it may seem like a quick fix (we know how long it can take those pesky landlords to fix stuff), it's more productive in the long-term to let them do their job. And you won't get paid for fixing the broken door yourself. Learn from my experience – I didn't want to pay for a replacement Henry Hoover and instead emailed (and emailed), pestered, and watched my flat transform into a dust bowl. But guess what – we got a hoover AND we didn't have to pay for it. Win-win. Just remember: 1. Photograph any problems. 2. Email your landlord ASAP. 3. Pester, pester, pester.

Embrace the role of Pestering Peter

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Me, accompanied by two wannabe Henry Hoovers

We're the generation of computer literate keyboard warriors. We have some serious nagging potential. Embrace it and don't let those agencies exploit you, and don't let them "forget" to repair your fridge. Make sure you email them about everything that is wrong and don't give in. Your emails will be automatically archived, which means there are no excuses for forgetting anything (although this works both ways).

Although we're technically adults now, don't forget that you can always run back to mum and dad for advice. They can help to look over any emails, or just give you a proper "grown up" opinion. You can also make sure that you know your tenancy and deposit rights, so that you go in fully informed. Good luck, and make the most of your fully functioning oven.