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Nine tips to help you get your deposit back

By Andy Hill

With less than half of Londoners owning their own pad –  and the number declining – we are truly a city of renters. In our new series we’ll be tackling the issues that come with renting. First up, Andy Hill gets some advice from Miles Shipside, a longstanding London landlord.

If you’re a long-term private renter (basically the bulk of us in the Time Out office) there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll have had beef with a landlord or letting agent quibbling over the return of your security deposit. Assuming you haven’t set fire to the gaff you’ll likely receive the lion’s share back, but niggly unforeseen deductions can mount up and make moving even more stressful than it already is. Here are some tips on avoiding penalties when it’s time to up sticks…

Make sure your tenancy is legit

‘Deposit-protection schemes exist, and work fine, but only if you’re in an “assured shorthold” arrangement. If you’re just an off-the-books lodger don’t expect legal protection. Check this.’

Get the inventory right

‘It’s exciting to move into a new place, but unless you properly focus, photograph and sign-off on every detail you won’t have a leg to stand on come the end of your tenancy.’

Bring up problems early

‘Landlords are more likely to seek deductions if we suddenly discover, after a year, an unreported damp patch on the kitchen ceiling. As soon as anything starts looking amiss, photograph and email it. We hate surprises.’

Don’t just rely on the letting agent

‘Many landlords use letting agents as intermediaries, so when reporting faults , be sure to say “Please advise the landlord”.’

Landlords appreciate caring tenants

‘By bringing faults to our attention early we realise you’re being considerate to our property, and will remember that when the tenancy is up.’

Try and assess your landlord before you move in

‘All landlords are different; ask around and try to assess their reputation.’

Don’t ignore your garden

‘Too many tenants let gardens get overgrown, which can be very expensive to put right. It’s only fair the cost gets passed on.’

You may be entitled to three times your deposit

‘The industry is largely unregulated (for now, anyway) but penalties exist for landlords who, for instance, don’t place your deposit with a protection service within 30 days. This means you, too, can be demanding.’

A ‘deep clean’ isn’t such a bad idea

‘Some landlords insist on having professional cleaners in at each end of the tenancy, some don’t. But, as with everything, if it’s documented and if both sides have read and understood the arrangement, there’s no argument.’

House hunting? Here are seven ways to help you find a cheaper home.

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