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The landlord-tenant relationship is a tense one at the best of times. Never is this more apparent than when it comes to returning deposits at the end of the tenancy. Most landlords want to give your full deposit back, but a few rogue landlords intent of pocketing a little extra cash have given the good ones a bad name. What does this mean for tenants? They’re on edge, of course!

As we’ve already mentioned, landlords want to give your full deposit back. Not because they’re just really generous, but because giving back a complete deposit means that their property is in the same condition on move-out day as it was on move-in day. If you’re not one of the nightmare tenants, and just want to be cautious about your deposit, try these really simple tips for getting your full deposit back at the end of your tenancy.

Pay close attention to your inventory

The inventory is the most important document for your tenancy – after your contract, of course. Be meticulous when filling it in and mention every nick and scratch you notice. While the landlord will use this document to carry out any required repairs, you should still be thorough and mention everything, even if it doesn't need repairing. A scratch in the paintwork might not bother you much, but you may end up paying for it at the end if you fail to mention it.

Be careful moving in and out

Keeping the walls pristine for an entire year and then scratching them on moving day is an incredibly frustrating feeling. Take extra care when moving boxes and furniture so you don’t damage the walls, floors or doorways.

Keep on top of the cleaning

Cleaning little and often is far more effective that slogging through a big clean when things have built up to critical levels. A grimy oven or mouldy bathtub is a popular reason for withholding a deposit. If you’re unsure, hire a professional cleaner at the end of your tenancy and make sure your landlord or letting agent receives a copy of the invoice.

Leave the house exactly as you found it

It sounds simple, but leaving the house exactly as you found it is the easiest way to get your deposit back, and this is really all your landlord wants. Moving the furniture around, buying new furniture or painting walls isn’t as helpful as you might think. This applies for inside and outside, so don’t think you’re being kind by leaving that old barbeque set behind. If you’ve painted the walls, paint them back to the original colour, unless you had written permission from your landlord to change the decor. Touch up minor scuffs and repair any holes from pins or picture hooks.

Don’t be afraid to challenge things

If there is a dispute with the deposit, you can ask the landlord or letting agent to release the undisputed amount while you get to the bottom of the problem. Being reasonable will often bring about a swift resolution. If you are unsure about your position, you can contact dispute resolution solicitors or the National Union of Students to find the best possible solution for your situation.