As we hit June, this tends to be the final month before people move out of their student houses and head home for the summer. It also gives you the stressful task of moving your entire life out of one place and into another. It can also be a tricky time to navigate the terms and clauses of your tenancy agreement with your letting agency/landlord. Having experienced this twice now, with two different agencies, I’ve certainly been caught out with unnecessary charges (cleaning charges for a house that our mums can and disinfected from top to bottom!) But here’s a handy checklist for you and your housemates to ensure you don’t get charged/fined when you don’t have to!
1. Check your letting agreement. A lot of letting agencies do a ‘check in’ – where they come round your house and tick off if there is already any damage/marks on the wall etc. Most tenancy agreements also have a checklist of fines that you could be faced with. Use these as a guide when cleaning and moving out of your home to see what they’ll be looking for. Little things we didn’t consider at first like cleaning out the debris in the pipes of the washing machine (I know..) or cleaning the outside of the windows.
2. Don’t leave behind your stuff! Although it might actually be quite handy for new tenants to have an extra bookcase, or a mirror in their room – I’ve heard a lot of stories of people being charged for leaving items in the house that weren’t there already. It can be a nightmare if you have to try and get the entirety of Ikea back to your family home but there are other ways of disposing of the bigger things like the dump, or their are a number of sites you can donate too. Look at local charity shops that are after homeware stuff, or ask other students younger than you. I used a ‘Cardiff buy, sell and swap’ Facebook page and allowed people to have my stuff for free on the condition they came and picked it up themselves. That was an office chair, a bookshelf and a mirror that I got rid of!
3. The same goes with rubbish bags. You can incur charges if you leave behind lots of rubbish bags. We were lucky last year because we had outside wheely bins meaning the bin men kindly emptied them for us even though they weren’t on the pavement. However this year we couldn’t leave bin bags in the street. Try and time your big clear out for when the rubbish collection day is (every fortnight for black bins, weekly for recycling). Although it might mean your room is a bit bare for a week, it can save a lot of time. Otherwise, arrange something with your neighbour to empty them for you, or take them to your local recycling centre/dump.
4. CANCEL BILLS! This is a really important one a lot of people forget. When you move out you need to let those you pay bills to know. This includes cancelling your rent standing order, gas, electric, water and broadband (+ any others you pay). Sometimes the broadband people will need to come round and collect your Internet hub, or you’ll have to send it off to them, and your gas and electricity providers will need your final meter readings in order to give you a refund if you’re eligible for one. It’s also important to give your letting agency/landlord your final readings too – this is especially helpful to the new tenants.
5. Apply for your council tax certificates. Students are exempt from paying council tax, however a lot of the time you need to prove that you are a student. You can apply for a council tax certificate through Sims online and they’ll be sent to your term-time address. We had to hand these to our letting agent when we moved out along with our keys, some others may be required to send off, but check with your letting agency or landlord first.
6. Book your check out time in advance. If you haven’t done this yet, do it now! A lot of letting agencies require you to book an appointment for them to come and look around your house before you leave, check you’re not leaving without paying for breakages etc. I strongly recommend you being there at the same time as them, so you can go through it together. The earlier you book it, the better it will be to get the check out day/time that you wanted.
7. CLEAN. This one is a no-brainer, but clean, clean, clean. This is where we feel short last year and got fined for cleaning. Some letting agencies and landlords can be VERY picky in order to take money off of your deposit before they hand in back. We disinfected and steam cleaned our entire place (actually our parents did), but we still got charged for it being not that clean. Sometimes it can be a really unfair charge, so if you think you’ve been mugged off, don’t be afraid to dispute it (you’ll probably have information on this already).
8. Move stuff back to where it was. This sounds like a really stupid one, but one of my friends got charged for moving her room around and then not moving it back. So if you preferred your desk by the window, or your bed on the other side of the room – make sure you switch it back round just in case!
9. Ask about storage. If you’re staying on another year and not in the same house, it might be beneficial to talk about storing your stuff in your new house. Sometimes if tenants of your new house have moved out already, you’re allowed to store your stuff in their over the summer (normally in one room). This is really handy as it means you only have to drag bigger things a few streets away rather than back to your house over the summer. You normally are allowed a key to your new house for around an hour whilst you do this and must hand in back so check first!
10. Finally, I mentioned before about donating bigger things, but look at donating to the University too. This year I donated a lot of text books to my library because they’d been so helpful to me over my degree course. But even your kitchenware and homeware is welcome too (not to the library obviously, but the SU). During Fresher’s week, there’s always some sort of bric a brac, second-hand sale where students can buy kitchen utensils and products – so look at donating stuff to that too (but be realistic with the stuff that people would want off you…)
Have I missed anything? Do you think there’s other things we should consider when moving out?