How can students ensure their deposit is paid back in full?

The academic year is drawing to a close and for many university students, term time has already finished.

Many will be returning home for the summer, while others will be looking for short-or-long-term employment. However, all students will want to see their full rental deposit paid back in full!

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, with many seeing deductions taken from their payment.

With that in mind, just how can students go about ensure that no deductions are made from their rental deposit?

Deposit Deductions

It is estimated that 40% of students living in privately rented accommodation do not get their full deposit back at the end of their agreement.

Rebecca Johnston from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), observed: ‘With the end of the academic year now upon us, many students and their parents will be hoping to get deposits back on rented properties.’[1]

‘But for many, issues with cleanliness, damage and redecoration will prevent them being reimbursed with the full amount.’[1]

According to the TDS, the top-contributing factor behind tenancy deposit disputes is cleaning, which accounts for 57% of the total number of cases.

Johnston continued by saying: ‘We regularly see disputes arising over the cleanliness of properties at the end of leases, particularly in student accommodation. For many people, cleaning is an afterthought with exams and summer excitement often taking precedence, but leaving a property either untidy or dirty can incur heavy deposit deductions.’[1]

In order to protect their deposit, Johnston advises that: ‘The easiest way to avoid losing out is to maintain your accommodation throughout the year, perhaps by establishing a cleaning rota, or doing monthly deep cleans with your flatmates. If however, you leave it to the last minute, you should do a full, deep clean before you leave and don’t forget to tidy the garden if you have one.’[1]


In addition, just over half of all deposit disputes cite damage to a property. This is where an inventory becomes absolute vital, at the beginning, during and at the end of an agreement.

As Johnston advises: ‘When you take on a lease, you should do your own inspection, documenting any evidence of existing damage and report it to your lettings agent or landlord.

However, accidents do happen, so if the property has become damaged during your lease, you should report it in writing to your landlord.’[1]

The top five most common deposit disputes for student accommodation in 2015/16 were:

  • Cleaning – 57%
  • Damage – 51%
  • Redecoration – 32%
  • Rent Arrears – 19%
  • Gardening – 16%
How can students ensure their deposit is paid back in full?

How can students ensure their deposit is paid back in full?


As highlighted, 32% of all disputes were due to redecoration.

Johnston says it is imperative: ‘If you want to redecorate the house or flat you’re renting, you should always get the landlord’s permission first. However, if you have already made changes, you can either return the property to its previous state, or ask the owner’s permission retrospectively.’

‘When removing pictures or posters, take care not to remove layers of paint and plaster, or leave holes and stains on walls that landlords will have to redecorate over.[1]

Finally, she reminds student tenants that they should ensure that their landlord is registered with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.



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