if you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember a sunday synopsis post at the beginning of the month where i spoke about how my second year landlord was wanting to deduct £120 of my £200 bond, and within it i said that i'd eventually write up a post regarding the situation and its outcome, and here i am, almost a month after i first received that gut-wrenching email, letting you know that all ended well and i'm here to share a few words in regards to how you as a student could either avoid this situation altogether, or work towards rectifying it if you should find yourself in a similar situation to mine.
so, to summarise, me and my housemate spent 6 hours cleaning our house thoroughly to then incur charges for a full kitchen and bathroom clean, replacement of the microwave which was already rusted upon our arrival, and, for me, the cherry on the top was a charge for a new mattress for a stain that i was never aware of throughout my tenancy because it was on the reverse side of the mattress, and of course i never had a reason to flip the mattress over to discover it. all of this meant that the landlord was wanting to deduct more than 50% of my bond, which was blatantly unfair as the only thing me and my friend did not do was defrost the freezer or pull all of the furniture out within the house to clean behind it, and because we were being charged for issues that existed previous to our tenancy.
yesterday, after almost a month of fighting my corner and refusing to back down, i received an email to let me know that the landlord was willing to waver all the unfair fees, leaving me with only a £30 charge. of course that charge still seemed a bit steep considering what we didn't do, but it was a damn sight better than £120 and a clear success on mine and my housemates' behalf for sticking to our guns and knowing our rights, so below i've compiled some of my top tips for dealing with greedy landlords:
- upon arrival, document issues with someone from the companywhen you move into your house, there's a chance that you may move in with somebody from the letting agency present to take notes of issues, so do make the most of that. as a naive first time student tenant, i didn't make the most of this and, of course, i regret it badly. check everything together: your mattress, inside of drawers and wardrobes, carpets, state of the walls, and anything else you can think of, and then ensure that the person takes notes of it so there is physical evidence that these issues existed upon your arrival.
- photograph everything
once you know physical notes have been taken, make sure you photograph all of the issues that exist with time and date stamps on them (just in case anything was to then happen to those notes), and if you want to cover your back all the more so, just photograph everything that you think a landlord could try and charge you for unfairly. if you're like i was you'll probably think "oh well of course they won't try to charge me unfairly," but i learnt the hard way that, actually, your landlord might not be a decent, fair human being who won't try to unjustly take your money to more than likely pay for their summer holiday.
- document issues physically
there were a couple of occasions where we either phoned up, went into the office or spoke to a company member while at our house about issues that needed to be resolved, yet when these issues were brought up regarding our bond, they were dismissed because there was no physical evidence that the issues had been reported. my advice for this would be to make your landlord/letting agency aware of any issues by email, because that way not only does the evidence exist physically, but it exists within your email account as well as theirs, thus giving you quick, direct access to the information if you should need it.
- know your rights
my advice here reflects my own situation, however i'm hoping that it could be broad enough to cover a variety of situations. basically, my bond was being held by a deposit scheme, the DPS to be exact, so when issues arose regarding the return of my bond, my first thought was to head straight to the website to read up about how to deal with difficult landlords. very quickly i found this document that basically informed me that the company and landlord were unfairly charging me for a variety of a reasons, so i then had a lot of ammunition to take into argument when discussing why the charges were unfair and i was under no obligation to pay them. if your money is being held in a deposit scheme, i'd recommend that you check out the company's website, and if not, i think the information in the DPS document would still apply to you to use as a representation of your rights as a tenant anyway: the bottom line is that the money is yours, and your landlord does not have the right to take it from you unfairly.
- stand your ground
after many angry phone calls and emails detailing my rights as a tenant, the letting agency finally agreed to get in touch with the landlord to negotiate a lower bond fee. after a week of awaiting the landlord's response, the letting agency got in touch to tell us that he wasn't willing to lower it. within the DPS document it states that tenants have the right to discuss issues directly with their landlord, so from this i then asked for his details to contact him personally, to which the letting agency told me they couldn't give me his details, but said they'd ask him to again compromise. three hours after receiving this email, i then received another to let me know that he'd compromised and lowered our bond fee to £30 – success! it really goes to show that putting up a fight and sticking to your guns when you know your rights pays off; knowledge is power.
so, there we have it, a fight i ended up winning. i do hope that if you're moving into student housing yourself that this has helped you out or at least opened your eyes a little bit to the possibility of a difficult landlord, because i know now that i'd have loved to have read something like this before naively moving into my house happily last september. if you have any other questions regarding this issue, do feel free to comment below or email and i'll get back to you with any help that i can offer!