Leaving a Property

The final step in your journey, here you’ll find information on how the return of your deposit and the moving out process.

Step 1

Ready for departure

Your leaving date should be written into your occupation contract, though if you’re a student and moved in between July and September, it’s likely to be 30th June. It’s likely that your landlord or managing agency will send you reminders about what end-of-tenancy paperwork you’ll need to provide.

Before you receive your bond back, you’re likely to be asked for proof that you’ve paid your utility bills and council tax (if applicable). If you’re a full-time student, you won’t have to pay council tax, but you’ll probably have to provide your council tax exemption certificate. You will have been given this by your university at the beginning of the year, but you can always request another if you’ve misplaced it.


Step 2

Inspecting the property

The check-out inspection marks the very end of your tenancy. Some check-outs are conducted by staff of the managing agency, but some are done by the landlord themselves.

The inspection will look for three things: any maintenance works that the landlord will need to take care of, the development of any wear and tear on the house, and whether your tenancy has resulted in any works that will need to be paid for from your deposit.

This is the time when the all-important inventory and any photos taken at the very beginning of tenancy are dug out and referred back to. If the landlord is trying to claim that you caused the burn on the carpet but the inventory says it was there at the start and you even have a photo of it, you’re covered.

It’s expected that there will be some wear and tear on a property from one year to the next, because simply by living there you will affect the condition of the furniture and fittings. Paintwork won’t be so fresh, handles might be looser, the carpets – especially in communal areas and on stairs – might be more worn than when you arrived. But there is a limit to what is ‘fair wear and tear’, which is part of what the inspection is there to judge.

If there’s anything in your house that needs work to rectify after your tenancy ends – such as replacement locks for missing keys, heavily marked walls or bins that haven’t been emptied – it’ll be noted during the inspection. It’s unlikely that the inspector will be able to quote exact costs, but they should be able to give you a good indication. Similarly, if the property is in a good condition, your inspector may be able to confirm a full deposit return.

Charges for cleaning are by far the most common deposit deduction, shortly followed by the cost to re-cut or replace locks for keys that have not been handed back, and the replacement of missing lightbulbs. The cost to re-paint a wall to cover blue tack marks is also a frequent claim.

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Step 3

What to expect from deposit protection

Deposit protection was introduced as a legal requirement in 2007 and safeguards your deposit. It places an obligation on all landlords to register it with an approved deposit scheme as soon as you pay it, ensuring money is not spent from your deposit without you knowing about it. In fact, if an agent or landlord wants to make a deduction from a contract-holder's bond and they don’t agree, deposit protection gives the contract-holder the power to dispute the claim. When a deposit return is placed in dispute, the deposit schemes requires evidence from both parties so that they can decide whether it is a fair amount being claimed by the landlord or agent from the contract-holder's bond.

This means that the landlord or agent have to be able to prove that the amount that they are claiming from the bond is to remedy issues that were caused by the contract-holder, which is where the importance of accurate records of the property’s condition upon move-in and move-out are vital. The deposit scheme will ask for this evidence so that they can arbitrate the issue fairly.

A dispute doesn’t mean that the deposit scheme hold on to all of your money until it’s resolved. The non-disputed portion of the bond will be returned to the contract-holders, and only the amount that’s in dispute will be held by the scheme.

The responsible person you nominated as “lead contract-holder” is the only person the deposit scheme will deal with when it comes to deposit returns, and it’s the job of that person to apportion the returned deposit to all contract-holders. Your letting agent or landlord won’t be able to intervene if contract-holders disagree among themselves as to who gets what amount back, which is why it’s crucial that you selected a reliable lead contract-holder during your tenancy signing.

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