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Cleaning costs biggest cause of deductions to student rental deposits

Cleaning costs and damage to fixtures and fittings are the primary reasons why deposit money is withheld when a student tenant moves out of a rented property, new research from independent comparison website money.co.uk shows.

As young adults across the UK head off to university, it would appear that many had better be prepared to lose at least some of their tenancy deposit, based on the study which revealed that four out of ten students (38%) can expect their landlord to keep almost a third (29%) of their deposit when they move out of their privately rented accommodation, with student tenants losing £164 each on average.

Of those landlords that have kept some of their student tenant’s deposit, more than half (52%) said it was simply down to cleaning, with a significant share of students failing to clean the property to a high enough standard to warrant a full deposit return.

Damage to fixtures and fittings was also the reason cited for almost a quarter (24%) of students who did not get their full deposit back, while excessive wear and tear (22%) was also an issue for over a fifth (22%). Just 5% cited unpaid bills as a reason.

However, two in three students felt that the deposit was retained unfairly. What’s more, despite legislation, around a quarter of students did not receive details of the protection scheme their deposit was registered with when they moved in, with one in ten claiming that their landlord did not protect them.

The research suggests a loss of £32m for the 196,766 students affected, and yet the study also highlights a wider issue where four out of five students (79%) are not signing a photo inventory when they move in. This means they have very little evidence of the ‘before and after’ condition of the property when it comes to moving out, with just over half (53%) of those students polled feeling that getting their whole deposit back would have been easier if they had signed an inventory.

Despite two thirds of students claiming the deposit withheld by their landlord was unfair, just 15% disputed the decision and managed to get some of their money back. A further one in five took action that proved to be unsuccessful.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief money.co.uk, pointed out that this is the first time many students will have rented their own place, but must take action to ensure that their deposit is protected.

“Landlords are not the enemy – students must make sure they keep the property in a decent state so there’s no reason for their landlord to keep their cash - this is money they’ll be relying on getting back,” said Maundrell.

“With over half a million students in private rented accommodation the scope for problems is huge,” she added. 

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