If you are moving out of your apartment, you want to make sure you get your tenancy deposit back. This sum usually equates to at least a month’s rent, and serves as a promise to your landlord that you will keep their property in good condition.
If you leave the place neat and tidy, without any damage to furniture or furnishings, there is no reason your landlord shouldn’t return your deposit in its entirety. But even if you have been a perfect tenant, this isn’t guaranteed. Although most landlords are honest, reasonable people, there are a few unscrupulous characters who will try to get as much money from you as possible. This might mean overcharging you for cleaning or replacement fees, or even blaming you for stains and scuffs that weren’t your fault.
So what can you do to protect your deposit and ensure you receive the full sum when you move out? Here are eight tips to help you get your money back.
Read your contract
No matter how boring your tenancy contract might seem, it’s important you take the time to read it. It may just save you a huge amount of money in the long term. This document should outline everything you are expected to do as a tenant in regards to keeping the property in good condition. This can serve as a checklist when you move out, and you can work through it to ensure you’ve done all you can. If you adequately fulfill the terms of your contract, your landlord has no grounds to deduct from your deposit.
The contract will also detail your landlord’s responsibilities in terms of keeping your deposit in a deposit protection scheme and taking care of the maintenance of your property. If they have not fulfilled their duties, then you could use this as evidence in the event of a dispute.
One of the most important precautionary steps to take when you move into any property is to take photos. Go through each room of the building and thoroughly inspect it for any flaws, such as scuff marks on walls, damage to furnishing, or pre-existing stains. Take clear photos of these and send them to your landlord when you move in. This will serve as evidence that these imperfections were there already and were not your fault.
Maintain a good relationship
When you live in a rental property for a long time, you will establish some form of relationship with your landlord. It is good practice to try and get on with them as much as possible. Being polite and considerate will show you are good tenants and they will be less inclined to deduct from your deposit at the end of the tenancy. You don’t have to become best friends if you don’t want to but make an effort to keep up a regular chain of communication and approach any requests or complaints in a courteous manner. Your civility will pay off in the end.
If you don’t make an effort to keep your property clean throughout your tenancy, you are going to have a very difficult time getting your full deposit back when you move out. But if you keep it neat and tidy all the time, vacating your apartment will be a breeze. Make it a habit to tidy up after yourself and schedule in time for a substantial clean each week. During this cleaning session you should vacuum carpets, wipe surfaces, and scrub bathrooms to ensure a reasonable state of hygiene.
Repair any damage
If you do cause any damage while you are there, you need to take responsibility and fix it. If you scuff a wall you should paint over it, and if you break a chair you’ll have to mend or replace it. There are times when your landlord is justified in deducting from the deposit so be a good tenant and cover your own back.
Do a final deep clean
Just before moving day, you will need to go through the entire property and give it a final deep clean. After you’re done it should be spotless and look brand new. Try to leave this until the very end of your tenancy, otherwise you will end up creating more mess that will necessitate cleaning all over again. Systematically go through your home one room at a time and give it a thorough once over. This includes removing personal items, cleaning floors, scrubbing and disinfecting appliances, and washing surfaces.
Hire a cleaning company
If you want more peace of mind that you will get your deposit back, it might be wise to consider an end of tenancy cleaning company. They will know how to target all the key areas to ensure you are not charged for housekeeping fees after your move out. House cleaning services may come at a price, but it will save you valuable time and stress so you can focus on your move.
Dispute any deductions
If your landlord does decide to deduct money from your deposit, you need to be prepared to dispute it. Ask them to provide a full list of reasons for charging you and evidence of the costs involved. For example, if your landlord deducts $200 for cleaning fees, they should provide receipts that prove they have hired a housekeeping service costing exactly that much. If you disagree with their decisions you should go through the resolution service provided by your tenancy deposit scheme. They will hear evidence from both sides and help you come to a decision that will hopefully get your deposit returned to you.
If this doesn’t work, you might have to be prepared to go to court. If you have a good case, the mere threat of legal action might be enough to get your landlord to return your deposit. But otherwise, you may have a lengthy legal battle ahead of you. At this stage it’s advisable to weigh up the costs to determine whether going to court is worth the amount you are owed.