This post was originally produced in 2017. It was updated during June 2019 to include relevant new information.
Whether you’re leaving university for good, or simply heading into a new property, it’s important to leave your home in a good state.
If you do, you’ll stand a far better chance of having your deposit returned to you in full. This guide has been designed to help offer a reminder of everything you need to take into consideration as moving day approaches. Read the checklist below and scroll down for the full advice!
Making sure you remove any leftover rubbish from the property you’ve rented is an absolute must. Left behind, it will create problems for the property’s owner and you will be forced to front up for the resultant inconveniences. These could include everything from odours, to stains, to rodents and pests.
You need to treat the place you’re renting as if it were your own home. The best way to avoid a big pileup of trash at the end of your stay is to keep on top of it throughout the year.
A few weeks ahead of your moving out date, make sure you check in with your landlord or letting agent for a reminder of any conditions you need to bear in mind – as well as the date you need to move out. It’s easy to forget these sorts of things amongst the excitement of moving in.
This way, you’ll not only ensure that you’re as prepared as possible; you’ll also likely make a good impression with the person or company you’re renting the property with. Show them that you’re on the ball.
You should absolutely take pictures of the state of the property as you move out - and make sure that they’re date-stamped. Leave no stone unturned and make sure you file away the photos safely for your records. In a lot of cases, you’ll have no issue dealing with the property owner and they’ll be perfectly fair, but it’s better to cover yourself just in case problems arise further down the line.
It’s worth simply keeping these photos for your own record, at least for the time being. You don’t need to make a point of sending them to the landlord or estate agent, as you could end up going on the offensive for no reason.
It’s essential that you pay off any outstanding bills when the time comes for you to move out of any rented home. If you fail to do so, you could incur fees from the utility provider or the letting agent due to the hassle of chasing you down. You may also find late fees beginning to stack up, whilst things can get even more serious the longer you don’t pay.
One way to tackle any issues that could arise is to create a spreadsheet with all the end dates for each of your utilities. Track any correspondence in there and share it amongst all of your housemates. You can then use the spreadsheet as a base to ensure you have everything covered well ahead of time.
It’s imperative that you tell your utility providers which date the final tenant in your property is departing. This isn’t the responsibility of the landlord or letting agent and any difficulties that arise as a result of failure to notify will fall into your hands. Once you have let the providers know your departure date, make sure they also have the forwarding address for the lead tenant.
This will allow them to send final bills directly over, rather than relying on the landlord, who may charge a fee for the inconvenience. It doesn’t have to be a painful process and if you’re prepared the whole process can actually end up being completely seamless.
Even after you’ve told your utility providers that you’re moving, it’s essential that you make a note of the final readings on your date of departure for gas, electricity and water. For additional peace of mind, take a date-stamped photo of any meters themselves so that you have concrete proof if any providers try and question your records.
If you follow our advice with the spreadsheet above, you can simply add this information in there at the same time for everyone to see. Add a time-stamped photo of any meters too for reference if needed further down the line.
Hopefully not one that you’ll forget to tick off but make sure you hand back over the keys when you’ve left the property. If you take them with you and they get lost, the process of the letting agent or landlord being forced to change the locks could prove expensive. The property owner is entitled to expect the keys swiftly, or they may choose to change the locks and charge for the inconvenience.
Trust us when we say this one is worth including. It’s amazing how easy it is for the most obvious things to slip when you’re excited about going home or finishing for the year.
Sometimes, as hard as you try to avoid them, damages do happen. The important thing is just to be honest about them, rather than trying to hide them when you move out. If you’re up front with the landlord, they may take a kinder view towards fixes. If you don’t mention damages, you’ll find it harder to argue your case when they’re discovered.
If any damage does occur, make sure to document it at the time and also raise it as soon as it happens with the person in charge of the property. This should help reduce any conflict.
It’s important to remember to update your address for avenues outside of just utilities when you move out of a property. Organisations you’ll need to contact will typically include your university, banks, Royal Mail, Amazon and any other companies you have an account with. If you fail to remember, private mail will still go to your old address and it could be opened by the next occupants.
Again, it could be worth creating a spreadsheet to keep a record of all the companies you need to update and the status of where you’re at in the process of informing them.
We already covered this for your utility providers, but you should also leave a forwarding address with your landlord or letting agent too. This will prove important for documentation regarding the release of your deposit, as well as somewhere for any mail that gets missed to be sent on to.
Make sure you email or text it directly to them and ask for confirmation that they’ve received your forwarding address so that you know you’re covered.
Definitely one of the most important moments of your tenancy, the final clean of the property you’ve been renting is always going to be key for the return of your deposit. It’s vital that everyone mucks in at this time, as the cleaning process needs to be a team effort. Plus, the more of you that are involved, the less painful it will be!
Consider getting an extra hand involved by promising friends a rewarding pint upon completion of the task.
Bear in mind that during the cleaning of the property, you’re more than entitled to do everything yourself. You can’t be forced to get a professional cleaner in. The key is to do a thorough job so that the landlord or letting agent doesn’t then need to order a follow-up clean, which would come out of your deposit.
Once you’ve finished any cleaning of the house, this is another good opportunity to take a series of date-stamped photos.
Before you start the clean it’s worth making a list of all the products you think you’ll need to do the best job possible. You can then head down to a bargain store and get all these for no more than a few pounds each. If it gets your deposit back in full, that small spend will be well worth it!
Once any cleaning has been complete, make sure to compare all of the items in the house against the record laid out in the inventory. You will have signed this document at the point of moving in, so if there has been unreasonable wear and tear within certain areas of the house - or items such as furniture have been damaged - it’s worth discussing with the property owner.
You also have the opportunity to get certain things fixed professionally, which may be cheaper if you have a good contact for example.
The best thing you can do is be honest with the landlord throughout your stay. This way you can tackle any problems as they actually happen and hopefully keep any attached costs down. If you treat the property with respect there is really nothing to worry about here.
When you moved in, you’ll hopefully have had a discussion with the property owner regarding whether it was okay to hang posters and pictures on walls. It’s likely that their answer may have been yes, providing that you fix any aesthetical damages.
When you move, make sure you remove any items carefully - and then check for damages. If they’re easily fixable, it’s worth spending a few quid to avoid a hefty sum being taken off the deposit. There’s no harm in communicating this to the landlord too beforehand, as they may want you to use a certain type of paint, for example.
If you spend money fixing small blemishes and then you find out the landlord doesn’t like the paint you’ve used, you could see your money go to waste. It’s worth considering if you want the hassle of the issue at the end of the year if any damage has indeed been done.
Once you’ve moved out, unless the property has been damaged significantly, you’ll be wanting to get your hands on your deposit. Hopefully this will be close to the full amount, but it will be influenced by how close the property is to when you moved in and whether there’s been unreasonable wear and tear.
You’re fully within your rights to chase for your deposit if you haven’t heard anything within the agreed timeframe. Don’t be afraid to do this as soon as any deadline from the terms and conditions passes.
It’s worth noting that you should always pursue the final sum of money that’s been decided upon, even if you encounter issues. For example, we know of students that have struggled to get their deposit back due to the lead tenant becoming uncontactable. This can be overcome though, you just might have to push your case with the company holding the funds.
Most reputable providers will ensure there is no hold up with the deposit funds and provided your money is within one of the enforced schemes, there is very little reason for any potential hold up.
This follows on from the last point. For everything from securing the return of your deposit, to getting back any money owed for bills, you must keep hold of the contact details for all of your housemates. Whilst often they will be trusted friends, it may be that you’ve been renting with someone that you don’t know as well, so don’t leave without their details.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where their involvement is required or you need funds from them and you can’t get hold of them in either case.
If you have any extra rubbish to dispose of, you can make use of red sacks, which can be collected from your Students’ Union. These are for rubbish that won’t fit in your standard black bin and they will be collected from your street to help you dispose of anything unwanted.
Bear in mind that it will always be easier to stay on top of your rubbish throughout the year, as anything you can cut out of the moving out process will be welcomed when you come to it.
Many-a-student has gone through university getting away with the ‘last minute fix’ attitude, but there are some cases where it could leave you high and dry. One of these is moving out, as you don’t want to get round to moving day and find there’s no-one to help move your belongings to their next location. Hound parents, brothers and sisters, and friends well in advance! Again, a gesture to take them out for a food or drink for their kindness can go a long way.
In the week leading up to you moving out, make a start on your packing and tick stuff off each day. This way, when moving day rolls around, you’ll be able to focus on the task ahead rather than rushing to pack too.
Whether you’re saying goodbyes, or celebrating the end of a tough spell of exams, it’s natural that you’ll want to go out in style. If a party starts being talked about though, it may be wise to steer it away from your rented property. This will avoid loads of mess and potential damage. Why not all head out into town instead?
You don’t want all your hard work to keep the property in good condition to go to waste, plus there are plenty of bars, pubs and clubs you can go to to celebrate instead too.
Probably the most obvious point you could think of, but don’t forget to lock the property when you move out! Any sign of a burglary without the need for forced entry will be incredibly obvious and the cost to you and your housemates could be immense.
It would be a real kick in the teeth to keep things secure all year for it to slip right at the last minute. Set a reminder for the last person leaving the property and make sure you all text them on the day so they don’t forget too.
Don’t be tempted to chuck out all the important paperwork that’s built up during your time as a tenant. Hang on to bills, Tenancy Agreements, deposit documentation and anything else that may serve a useful purpose in the potential case of any conflict further down the line.
It might be a pain to have that bulk but you should be able to reduce it to a small folder which can sit on your shelf. Keep that documentation for a good while after you’ve moved out too just incase.
If there’s going to be a period of time between tenancies in two student properties - or if you’re heading home to a different city but don’t want to take all of your belongings - it may be that you need to secure a storage facility. If you know this is going to be the case, make sure you organise it as far in advance as possible.
If you leave it too late you’ll probably end up paying more and you may find that the choice on offer is considerably less than it would be if you’d planned in advance.
One that’s particularly important if you’re moving straight from one property to another is sorting out your insurance. It might be that you’re covered on a policy owned by parents, but it still needs checking - as does the date your existing policy expires. Just make sure to check in advance of moving day so that you can have everything sorted before you make your next move.
The last thing you want is to move in, get comfortable and then for something to go wrong and you not be covered, however unlikely that may be.