Student Deposit Dispute Season

If the weather is anything to go by, summer is upon us already, which can only mean one thing for thousands of landlords up and down the country: student changeover time.
In my, admittedly anecdotal, experience adjudicating deposit disputes, there are three groups of people responsible for significantly more damage to rented property than everyone else put together. They are:
  1. Barristers (the shame!)
  2. Doctors. I saw a defence from a tenant once that read “I don’t have to clean, I’m a doctor”. They didn’t win.
  3. Students. It’s no surprise really. Students have a well deserved reputation for trashing properties and there will be very few student landlords who don’t need to make a claim on any protected deposits this summer, so here is some advice for landlords in the run up to changeover season.
As the end of the tenancy approaches, send your tenants a letter reminding them of their obligations. Point out any relevant terms of the contract that might prompt them to clean up and tidy garden. Remind them that they have a copy of the inventory, or even give them another copy, and gently suggest that the inventory provides a useful guide as to how the property should be left, subject to fair wear and tear, of course.

Make an appointment with the tenants to check-out the property when the last one leaves. If they are going home before the end of the tenancy, you can hold the check-out early provided they voluntarily hand over their keys. If you come to an agreement at the check-out meeting regarding deductions from the deposit, make a note there and then as to how much was agreed and what for, and have the tenants sign it.

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, relations between landlord and tenant break down over repayment of the deposit. One of the pitfalls of student letting is that indignant parents who couldn’t possibly believe their little darling could be responsible for any damage wade in with their best legal sounding letters. If you find yourself in a pickle over a deposit, with a difficult parent giving you a hard time, please call us. We will always do our best to make sure you get a fair deal, and can even deal with the tenant or parent on your behalf, which can be very helpful if you are no longer able to have a constructive discussion.

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