When the time to leave your private rented home is approaching, the information in this section will help you prepare and minimise the risk of deposit deductions. Once you have left your rented home, you will have to actively seek the return of your deposit, during which time knowing your rights will make all the difference.
If your tenancy started after 1 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Ban 2019 means you can opt to clean the property yourself, even if your contract states you have to pay for professional cleaning or your landlord’s cleaning service. As a general rule, you should leave the property as clean as you found it.
If you’ve kept on top of the cleaning, this shouldn’t be too difficult. If you haven’t, then we recommend you roll up your sleeves and give yourself a week to clean thoroughly.
Look for tips online to make things easier and help you make a shopping list for cleaning products.
If you have left your oven or carpet in a particularly bad state, then we recommend you get them professionally cleaned to avoid deposit deductions.
If you’re not known for your cleaning prowess, we suggest you use professionals after removing your belongings from the property. Book a few weeks in advance to avoid disappointment.
We asked around and found some local cleaners recommended by others for you. We cannot recommend a particular cleaners, but we’re happy to share others’ recommendations with you.
If you know any other great cleaners, please share their details with us so we can add them to our list.
They should tell you immediately and give you a chance to put it right. Contact the Advice Centre for help if you have problems. If the property is left unsatisfactorily clean, then the landlord/agent can charge you for cleaning - they do have to provide you with a receipt proving the cost though. We have seen many inflated cleaning bills, so please email us with your cleaning bills if they seem unreasonable to you, and we can look into it for you. Unfair bills can be challenged and our Advisors will show you how. The agreed cleaning amount will then be deducted from your security deposit.
See our Private Housing Leaving Guide for how to get your deposit back and other useful information.
Council tax is collected by your local council to pay for services in your community, such as bin collection and social care. You can read more about it here.
Yes, full-time students are exempt when it comes to council tax but you do have to prove your student status. If you haven’t already done this, email your certificate to Runnymede Borough Council now, letting them know when your tenancy ends to avoid problems.
The problem lies in the fact that your full-time student status ends on the last day of your final academic year. At this point, Runnymede Borough Council can start charging final-year students for council tax.
We think this is unfair and our previous extensive lobbying attempts included delivering over 100 letters from students directly to the council and writing a letter in partnership with the University to try and resolve the situation. Frustratingly, while numerous other councils around the country use their discretion to not bill students in the last couple of months of their student tenancies, Runnymede Borough Council has refused to budge on their position to charge final-year students.
This is why some of you have already received your bills and will have to pay council tax from 12 June until the end of your tenancy.
After years of fighting for students' rights on the issue of council tax, our Advice Centre have built up extensive knowledge and has put together a FAQ document to help you understand this new phase of financial adulting.
It is common for landlords and tenants to disagree over how much money, if any, should be deducted from the deposit once the tenancy ends. Most student tenants find themselves in a deposit dispute at the end of their tenancy when their landlord proposes a laundry list of unfair charges. Some even find the landlord/agent is ignoring their communications and not returning the deposit at all. So, chances are that you will need the information below, which will help even if you’re abroad!
After moving out, you should seek advice if your landlord/agent is:
Remember that in a typical student house-share (Assured Shorthold Tenancy), your deposit should be protected by law, meaning that no money can be deducted from it without your written consent.
Landlords are legally required to safeguard their tenants' deposits with one of three government-backed deposit protection schemes: Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. You should have been given this information by the landlord/agent within 30 days of paying your deposit.
Please see our Cleaning Top Tips and Private Housing Leaving Guide for the latest information about your end of tenancy rights and obligations to avoid being overcharged.
A brand new piece of furniture won’t look brand new at the end of a 12-month tenancy. The landlord cannot charge you because something is not in pristine condition anymore. If something was already old when you moved in, then the landlord would probably have had to replace it anyway, and so they shouldn’t charge you for the complete cost.
For you, it might involve a fair bit of effort, but our Housing Advisor has learned from past cases and can go through it with you in an advice appointment.
If you’re up for the challenge yourself, here are our tips:
If you are in a typical student house-share, your landlord will have had to protect your deposit, which gives you access to a free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which is very fair. You fill out the form (our advisors can help you with it firstname.lastname@example.org) and then the landlord is ordered to return a fair amount of the deposit back to you.
In the meantime, you can ask ADR to tell the landlord to return the undisputed part of the deposit to you.
Yes! Although it can be a bit of a pain, showing the landlord that you know your rights works most of the time. Last year, all students who went through ADR with the help of our Advice Centre won their cases. You have to get started ASAP though - you only have three months after moving out to use ADR. Don’t worry though, we have ‘form-geeks’ who love helping students with ADR forms.
Please note that it can take this long to get your deposit back, even if you don’t use ADR.
ADR saved RHUL students thousands of pounds over the last few years – check out Alexa’s story from 2019, which was one of a number of our Advice Centre Success Stories.
We know it’s not fair that it’s such hard work to get your own money back, especially when you’ve just finished exams, but we’ll be here for you every step of the way. Once you’ve gone through your first deposit dispute with us, you’ll be able to breeze through it all on your own next time.
Sometimes students have to leave university early due to their individual circumstances. This can have serious housing and financial consequences and so if you find yourself in this situation, we recommend you ask an advisor for guidance.
If you had a bad experience with your landlord or agent, we can help you put in complaints and report them to the relevant authority if they don’t respond satisfactorily. Write a summary / timelines of what happened and how the agent/landlord responded (less than 500 words) and share it with an advisor, who will get back to you with guidance.
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