Housing contract coming to an end? Worried about getting your security deposit back? Our Advice Centre is on hand to guide you through the process and make sure you’re not stung by unfair charges.
We know that you just want to chill now, but we also know that we have promised to put money back into students’ pockets. So, if you’re not enticed by this juicy topic, then simply save it for when your rental contract nears its end - it could save you hundreds of pounds.
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.
Cleaning (if you didn’t clean sufficiently)
Fair wear and tear
Improving the property
Unpaid rent or bills, including council tax
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) and then the landlord is ordered to return a fair amount of the deposit back to you.
In the meantime, the landlord can return the undisputed part of the deposit back 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 last year – check out Alexa’s story from last year 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.
You can check out our Housing FAQs for other important information during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the latest advice and information can be found on our Coronavirus Hub.
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX