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How to protect your deposit when renting a property

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last updated: 26 May 2016 report a problem

how to protect your deposit when renting a property

Finding a new home, dealing with all the associated paperwork and organising your belongings can be so time consuming and stressful that moving day feels like the end of a race. But in the bustle of unpacking boxes and bags you might miss out a couple of important tasks that will make all the difference to your bank account.

Take metre readings immediately

Being stuck with the former occupant’s bills is an unpleasant yet not-unheard-of irritation when moving into a new property. The administrative protocols of the utilities providers often seem designed to frustrate under such circumstances, but you can shortcut any confusion by taking metre readings the minute you walk through the door. You don’t have to ring them straight through, but having the figures written down and notifying the relevant companies the next working day will save you time, money and effort should there be an issue with accountability.

Complete the inventory check and keep a copy

Although your landlord or agent may well be pleasant to deal with during your tenancy, there is no harm in making sure that your security deposit is covered against later misunderstandings. Inventories are often incredibly detailed, even listing light fittings and taps, so make sure that you are just as conscientious when completing your checks of the items included. If there is anything on the list that does not match the description – for example, the inventory says that the toaster is chrome but the one you’ve been provided with is white – make sure you amend the sheet to reflect the change. It will likely be an oversight from when the goods have been replaced by a previous tenant but, to avoid confusion when it comes time to move on, make sure that the inventory is exact and keep a copy.

Inspect the pipes

Even if there was nothing evident when you first viewed the property, a small but persistent leak can cause untold damage to your pocket book. Check under sinks, around dishwasher fittings and the connections into the washing machine before starting to unpack. There are rules governing whose responsibility it is to undertake repairs but water damage is often accumulative, leading to permanent staining that may be charged to your security deposit. If there is evidence of dampness or leaks, particularly on the ceilings, make sure that you notify either the letting agent or landlord and document the problem on the inventory sheet for future reference.

Note the existing conditions

When you’re counting spoons and listing crockery, make sure to carefully inspect carpets and floor coverings too. There is a certain amount of wear and tear allowed for walls and floors but the definition of “reasonable” usage depends very much on the letting agent or landlord. Rather than run the risk of being charged to replace already damaged or perfectly serviceable flooring, take a photograph. If walls are scuffed or the paper peeling, make a note and back it up with photographic evidence so that you have proof of the property’s condition when you moved in.

The last thing you want to think about on moving day is the possibility of future problems, but you need to make sure that you, your landlord and your letting agent all have exactly the same information about the condition of the property on the day you moved in. Although we all hope for the best when it comes to our rental relationships, there is never any harm to exercising a little care and attention in order to protect against future charges.

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