Living in the UK
Moving out of your house correctly is really important if you want to get your deposit back! This short video shows you how.
You do need to plan in advance of the day your tenancy agreement ends. Most students finish their exams, attend the end of year ball and then go home without giving much thought to the house they are leaving. We suggest you plan to do the following:
- Before you get started with your exams in May, have a house discussion about who is intending to leave and when so you can establish which housemate will be the last one to leave Loughborough.
- Start to clear out your room in May of all the junk you have accumulated, throw it away or take it to the charity shops. This is great therapy in your rest periods from revision!
- Get together as a household and start to sort out the common areas such as the garden, kitchen and bathrooms. If you clean them up now, there will be less effort needed in June/July when you just wnat to go on holiday.
- Find the check-in inventory you did (hopefully) when you moved in! Go through the house and make sure all furniture is back in the rooms it is listed in. This is important because if you don't you could end up with a bill for lost items.
- Make sure bins are put out and rubbish collected. The lawn needs mowing (if you have one) and any broken items repaired or replaced.
- After the exams, you all need to get involved in a big clean- the oven the fridge, in the kitchen cupboards, it all needs cleaning. It is much bettter to leave the house cleaner than when you found it! Take photos and make sure they have date stamps on them.
- Notify the lagent/landlord the date the last person is leaving and arrange to have a check-out inspection carried out by them. Make sure you ask for this in writing so if they do not respond you have proof you asked for it.
- The last person needs to take meter reading and notify the suppliers that the tenancy has ended. For more information follow this link.
|'The absence of a check out report is often considered a glaring omission when dealing with claims involving damage, gardening and cleaning, as its absence severely limits the ability to ascertain if any deterioration to the property has taken place during the course of the tenancy.' Adjudicator in tenancy deposit dispute case.|
The check-out report is essential for the landlord as it proves the state that the tenants left the property and he/she would need to rely on this report if they want to succcessfully make deductions from a tenant's deposit. Conversly, the check-in report is essential for the tenant to prove the state of the property when they took it over!
However, we advise that you always ask for the agent/landlord to carry out a check-out report for the sake of completeness and if you have left the house in the same or better state than when you started you have nothing to worry about.
Ask the landlord in writing (email is acceptable but keep a copy) to carry out the check-out.
If they do not respond, then take your own photos and use the check-in report to make sure all furniture is present and in a similar state fair wear and tear excepted (see below).
Your landlord can't deduct money from your deposit for normal wear and tear, but they can for damages.
Examples of wear and tear are:
- worn carpets
- scrapes and scuffs on the walls
- faded curtains
Examples of damages are:
- a burn hole or nail varnish spill on a carpet
- a hole punched into a wall
- torn or missing curtains.
Utilities, post etc
On or just after moving out you will need to do the following:
- Contact the utilitiy companies with your meter readings. If you do not know how to do this then follow this link. Utilities include gas, wter, electricity, and TV/Broadband (you don't need to read a meter for the last one!)
- Get final statements from these companies and make sure you pay all that is owing. If you dispute the amount charged come and see an adviser, or email us with your issues.
- Notify anyone who you have given this address to for example, your bank, theUniversity, the DVLA for your driving license, insurance companies, etc etc.
- You can get your post redirected to another address for a small fee.
- Cancel your TV license and ask for a refund for the remainder of the license.
Once you have tidied up all these loose ends all that is left to do is formally ask the letting agent or landlord for the return of your deposit!
Getting the deposit back
This can be tricky! We have noticed that landlords like to keep hold of your money for some reason! The key point to remember here is that it is YOUR MONEY, and the landlord has to prove that they have a right to retain it.
The deposit is only there to protect the landlord from damage to their property, missing items of fixtures, fittings or furnishings, cleaning costs and unpaid rent. Before asking for the deposit back, check with all the house mates that none of them are in arrears with their rent. If you are joint tenants, the landlord can take money from all of your deposits, if you have an individual tenancy they cannot.
|'At all times it is the burden of the Landlord/Agent to prove that they were justified in withholding the deposit from the Tenant; that it is the Tenant’s breach of the AST that is the reason for the retention, and that a loss flowed from this breach.' Adjudicators comment in a deposit dispute decision.|
- The landlord has to tell you what deductions they are proposing to make from your money- at this stage it can only be a proposal as you are the one who can either agree or disagree with the deduction- remember it is your money!
If you agree with the deductions:
- for example you know that you did break a chair and you know that the chair was replaced by the landlord at a cost of £XX, then you write back and say you are happy with the deduction. The landlord should then pay the remainder of the deposit back within 10 days.
- Usually, they pay to one tenant only- often referred to as the lead tenant. This person then is responsible to distribute the money to the others
If you DO NOT agree with the proposed deductions:
- Find all the information given to you when you paid your deposit about which deposit protection scheme your money has been secured with. If you cannot find this information, you can search with the 3 schemes to trace which one was used.
- You need to write back and say you do not agree and explain why. At this stage, ask for the landlords proof of the damage they are alleging or the cleaning they had to carry out. For this you would need to see the check-out report, invoices/receipts for the work carried out or replacement bought- check these are genuine companies, it is easy to create an invoice in Word.
- If this information is not forthcoming, remind them and give them a 5 working day deadline to reply to you.
- If you still do not agree, gather your own evidence (check-in report, check-out report, photos etc), and present this to the landlord.
- Should this not change their mind, you will need to go to the scheme the deposit is protected in and find out what their process is to start a dispute.
Deposit dispute process
This is a reasonably straightforward system that allows your dispute to be decided by an adjudicator using an alternative dispute resolution service.
All three of the tenancy deposit schemes offer ADR (alternative Dispute Resolution) to their landlords and tenants. However, each scheme is run slightly differently and you do need to check :
a) which scheme your money is protected with
b) what their process is
before you start a dispute with your landlord.
How it works
Once you know the time scales you have to work to you can start to prepare your case. We have put together this guide which you can use to help you prepare your dispute. ADR is strictly paper-based meaning you do not have to go and give evidence or see your ex-landlord/letting agent in a court room. This does mean, however, that you need to be prepared and submit all your evidence at the same time. You are unlikely to be allowed to add more evidence once you have submitted your case.
How to prepare
Before you start a dispute we would recommend that you talk to the other housemates to see if they have had any correspondence with the landlord or agent and that they are happy for you to start a dispute. If you are joint tenants by starting a dispute you are starting it for all of them.
They might also have additional evidence to add to the case.
If you have followed the advice on our website you will have already gathered much of the evidence you require to put an effective case together. To recap you should try and find:
- The check-in report (and photos if taken at the time)
- The check-out report (if taken at the time)
- Evidence you have relating to the proposed deductions- this might be just the two reports mentions above, or you may have emails, text messages etc.
- Draw up a time line- this will help you remember things and form the basis of your statement.
- You only need to refer to the proposed deductions as this is all the adjudicator will consider.
- For example, do not write copious amounts about what a terrible letting agent/landlord they were when the deduction relates only to cleaning. Keep your statement relevant to the deductions proposed.
- If there is more than one proposed deduction then address each one separately, keep your response clear, factual and unemotional. Where possible back up any statement with evidence of some sort e.g. a photo or an email.
- Create a schedule of evidence in a similar way you would a list of references in an essay.
Remember, it for the landlord to prove that you did the damage and that he has suffered a financial loss- the burden of evidence is on them, but if you have some evidence to prove your own case that is even better.
- Once you have addressed all the proposed deductions and found your supporting evidence you are ready to start the dispute via the appropriate website.
- Keep a copy of all your documents.
If you would like an adviser to read your statement and check your evidence before you submit it we will be happy to do so. You often only get once chance to put your case, unless the landlord/agent submits additional evidence, then you will be asked to comment on that.
Below are some genuine comments made by adjudicators in cases that students have successfully taken to ADR- they give a good flavour of how the adjudication works, along with a full adjudication report:
We also like these case studies that you can work through from the DPS- they really help to show what evidence the adjudicators are looking for when deciding who is entitled to get the deposit money.
Ending the contract early
You want to leave early
If you have a fixed term agreement and you want to move out before the end of the term, you can only do so if:
- there is a term in your agreement, known as a break clause, which allows you to end the agreement early. If there is a break clause, it should say when you can give notice, how much notice you have to give and whether there are any special procedures you have to follow, or
If you have a joint tenancy agreement, be aware that ending your agreement in this way will end the contract for your housemates too.
- your landlord agrees to you ending the agreement early. This is called surrender.
For a surrender to be valid, both you and the landlord must agree to it and confirm this in writing via a deed (we can help you with this). This is important in case there is a dispute later. If you have a joint tenancy all the joint tenants and the landlord must agree to the surrender.
Some landlords are prepared to negotiate, but they are under no obligation to do so. Your landlord can insist that you keep paying rent for the full length of the tenancy. You cannot simply end it by giving notice. If you leave before the end of the fixed term without your landlord’s consent, you are liable to pay the rent until the term ends even if you aren’t living there.
Finding someone to take over your tenancy
If you are unable to get out of your contract you can try finding a replacement tenant. You should speak to your landlord about advertising your room. You can advertise on www.Loughboroughstudentpad.co.uk, Facebook pages etc.
If your contract is joint and several, then your housemates have to agree to the replacement tenant. They do have the right to refuse them. However, they can only refuse on reasonable grounds such as the replacement tenant not being a student (liability for council tax).
When your housemates agree to a replacement tenant, you will need to contact the landlord/ agent to see whether they will give a new contract to include your replacement and take you out. If the landlord refuses, the next best thing is to sign an Assignment Notice. It is essential that this transaction is carried out correctly, please come and seek advice from us in the Student Advice and Support Service, or take other legal advice (not just the say so of the letting agent/landlord).
If you have an individual contract then you do not need to get the permission of your housemates. You will however need the landlord/ agent to agree. Your landlord can not withhold permission unreasonable but your landlord may want to check references. Check that the landlord will give the new person their own tenancy agreement - otherwise, you will still be liable for the rent.
After finding a replacement:
- your name should be removed from the contract;
- the name of the new tenant is inserted on the contract;
- the other tenants and the landlord initial and date the changes to the contract;
- the landlord must refund your share of the deposit; and
- you should ensure your name is removed from the utility bills.
Leaving before the end
Leaving your tenancy without giving notice, by moving all your things out and then posting the keys through the letterbox, is called 'abandonment'. It will not end your agreement, even though you have left the property. Your landlord can carry on charging you rent until the fixed term of your agreement comes to an end. Your landlord may also seek to keep your deposit.
The landlord can even apply to the court for an order to make you pay what you owe. The court will decide whether you should have to pay your landlord the money or not.
By the Landlord
If your landlord wants you to leave early, they must also look at the contract. If you have a fixed-term agreement, the landlord cannot ask you to leave unless there is a break clause or if the landlord seeks possession because you are in breach of contract.
There are set mandatory and discretionary grounds for eviction. Mandatory means that if the case is proven the court will have no option but to grant possession (e.g. eight weeks’ rent arrears).
If your landlord relies on a discretionary ground (e.g. landlord claims the he property has not been looked after and the condition of the property has been adversely affected), and it can be proven, the court will then make a decision whether it is reasonable for possession to be granted. The court does not have to grant possession to the landlord.
Repossession by lender (Building Society/Bank) - A court may grant possession if the landlord has failed to make the mortgage payments. If the landlord has not informed the lender that they were renting the property out, the lender will not recognise you as tenants. As such they have the power to repossess the property with a court order. You can apply to the court for the order to be suspended for a short period of time, so that you can find alternative accommodation.
If you receive any notices or have any queries or concerns please contact the Student Advice and Support Service.