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How to get your deposit back- the do's and don't's of renting.


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When it comes to renting privately with so-called ‘student friendly’ landlords, there are some things ALL student MUST consider.

As another academic year starts to wind down and students begin facing their exams and deadlines, another yearly tradition starts. Moving. Whether you're a first year about to move out of halls and into private accommodation, a second year moving from one private accommodation to another, or a final year moving out of student accommodation for good, it's important to know what to do.

Imagine moving in, unpacking and getting settled, only to realise there's a disgusting amount of mould lurking under your mattress. Perhaps even accidentally leaving the stove on, causing thick black smoke to wake up the fire alarm, along with the rest of the house, at 3 am. It might sound ridiculously exaggerated, but you’d be surprised how many student-housing-horror stories there are floating about.

So, if you really fancy getting that deposit back, give this move in and out checklist a good read because it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. 

Moving in: 

First of all, congratulations are in order as you found a fairly decent looking student house and you finally get to move in with a bunch of mates. But hold up- there are a few things to consider before chucking your boxes in your room and heading to the pub for a catch-up.

The Dos: 

1. Whose room is whose? 

Before you move in, if you haven't already bagged your bedroom, you may want to agree with your housemates in advance on who has which room. You might decide you really don’t want the only single bed in the house (not all student properties have the luxury of all having double-rooms). Your best bet is to get a little organised prior to moving day. Or just get there first, beat them to it and bag the best room!

2. Pics or it didn’t happen. 

Most landlords have an Inventory Clerk (someone who writes a condition report of the property prior to when you move in). The Inventory Clerk is supposed to remain un-biased in order for there to be a fair trial as to whether students get their deposit back. However, it is always good to take photos yourself, of the condition of your house as you arrive. That way, if you want to dispute anything with your landlord as you move out, you have evidence to back it up.

3. Kitchen pitch-up

So you have all this ‘stuff’ for the kitchen (some of it you know you will NEVER use, but it looked cool in Ikea), but where to put it? There is often limited kitchen cupboard space. It might be a good idea to hold off until everyone arrives to dish out the storage space equally! Or maybe all share cooking utensils and keep food to yourself. 

The Don’ts:

1. Everyone hates a late-comer 

Really not a great idea to arrive way later than everyone else to pick up your keys. Or even worse, arrive to find everyone else is out and now you have to wait a few hours to get your keys to actually move in. Just get organised and move in at a suitable time.

2. The reality of bringing everything you’ve ever owned 

Don’t be that person that brings EVERYTHING with them from home. You’ll just regret it because you won’t have enough space. When unpacking, maybe bring a useful parent (they’re great with organisation skills…) to help you unpack and if you decide you've got way too much stuff, send them home with it! Bingo.

3. The joys of car permits 

Most student accommodation will be situated in the not-so-great part of town. Nine times out of ten, you won’t have a drive. To make things worse, road side car parking spaces will be limited. So instead of spending the whole year worrying about getting fines or risking parking your car down that super-dodgy-but-totally-free road, just get a permit. Most councils charge around £60 for the whole year. Don’t be silly and risk getting an £80 parking fine. Just not worth it pal. 

Moving out:

Finally, it’s the end of the year. You’ve finished your modules, hopefully passed your last exam and you’re off home for the summer.

Let’s be honest, you probably won’t want to spend much more time faffing around at university with nothing to do, but before you rush off, consider the following in order to get your deposit back: 

The Dos:

1. Making the impossible, possible 

Packing up your university room can seem like an impossible task. You’ll have a lot more stuff than you probably realised. To make things a little easier, try sorting through clothes and draws a few days before you plan to pack up. Chuck out anything you don’t use or donate old clothes to charity.

2. How many boxes?

Oh no! You forgot to save those boxes you used when you moved in. Now you have nothing to pack all your things in. Before turning into a panic and trying to steal boxes from other housemates- just order some from amazon. 15 boxes will cost you around £14. Liaise with your buddies on who needs some too to save some extra cash.

3. Scrub-a-dub, duh. 

Give the whole house a decent clean before you leave. It could save you a hefty cleaning bill and you don’t want to risk not getting your deposit back. Grab some bleach, some anti-bac spray and get cleaning. Don’t forget to hoover the floor- you’d be surprised how much dust builds up. Make sure you leave the house pretty much as you found it, but check your contract for finer move out-cleaning details.

The Don’ts:

1. Goodbye house party

Think about it- not only will you risk getting things broken the night before you move out, but clearing up right before you leave really sucks if you’re hungover. Is there anything worse? Don’t plan your ‘good-bye’ party for the night before you’re planning on going home. It’ll just end in tears (no seriously, proper hangover tears).

2. Forgotten something?

Uh oh, you’re already halfway home and you just realised you left your super expensive slow cooker on top of the fridge, still in its box, because you never actually used it. To avoid the extreme disappointment and frustration of having wasted money or paying the portaging to get it back, make a check list. It might be a lengthily list, but its less lengthy than having to drive back to university to get your stuff. Check out ours below for a few ideas.

3. What’s in your pocket?

Finally, you're back in the heart of mum and dad, shoes off, leaping onto the sofa to take a well deserved nap, only to feel something sharpe digging into you. Oops, you’ve just realised you kept the key, forgetting to give it back- good one.

Don’t take your keys home, you’re likely to NEVER get your deposit back!

To sum up, when living in a rented, shared, student house, you really do just have to be a little bit aware of what’s going on. The boring days of parents nagging you to be more responsible may be far behind you, but it was all preparation for this moment. Whilst your parents are likely to always back you, you’re old enough to tackle this one yourself. Besides, it’s just renting. How hard can it be? 

Read below for a few more tips to help you get through the year and the official National Student move-out check list. 

Top Tips Throughout the Year: 

  • Keep on top of the cleaning
  • Report any breakages/issues to your landlord asap 
  • Don’t annoy the neighbours too much. 
  • Keep the landlord on your side throughout the year

Forgotten Something? 

The Official National Student Move-Out Check List. 


  • Cutlery 
  • Mugs 
  • Glasses 
  • Frying pans 
  • Sauce pans 
  • Grater 
  • Measuring jug 
  • Chopping board 
  • Sharpe knives 
  • Plates 
  • Bowles
  • Kettle 
  • Toaster 
  • Add other cooking utensils below


  • Clothes 
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Bedding (pillows, duvet, cushions & blankets) 
  • Books
  • Stationary 
  • Fairy lights 
  • Speakers 
  • Mirrors 
  • Hangers 
  • University notebooks 
  • Photos 
  • Chargers 
  • Add other personalised items below

  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Towels 
  • Bath matt 
  • Shampoo & conditioner 
  • Face wash
  • Face masks 
  • Razors 
  • Shaving creams
  • Add other wash-bag items below

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