Home Front logoQ. I have just left home to rent my first apartment and am wondering if you have any tips to ensure I get my hard earned dilapidation deposit retuned in full at the end of the tenancy? Are there any pitfalls that I can avoid now to avoid paying later?

A. As a young professional, moving into your first rented property is always an exciting time. Sadly though, and sometimes through pure ignorance the sting comes at the end of your tenancy, when it comes to getting your deposit returned. Many landlords and letting agents have had problems with tenants in the past so the contract you sign at the start of your tenancy is likely to be water tight to prevent them from future problems. At the start of your tenancy, make sure that a professional inventory is carried out and that you attend the Check in and are able to walk around with the inventory Clerk and flag up any issues you spot there and then. Make sure you receive a copy of the Report read it thoroughly and put in writing anything that has been missed within 10 days of receiving the report then return this to the agent or landlord and make sure you get them to acknowledge your amendments in writing. At any point during your tenancy remember it is your responsibility to report anything broken or damaged which you cannot repair, and look out for damp patches or water leaks and notify your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible to prevent damage to the property. If you report this via phone, follow it up with an email so that, again, you have a paper trail. And, again, take photographs of any damages. When Vacating reread your contract and inventory thoroughly beforehand. If it states in your contract that you should professionally clean the property, do so and retain the receipt – as if the landlord disputes the standard then you have evidence. Adhere to any other conditions, such as defrosting the freezer, if it is in your contract. You should leave the property in the same condition as you moved in, but your contract will state, and it is legally projected, that ‘fair wear and tear’ is completely expected and acceptable. Before you leave, and preferably when you have moved out your belongings, take photographs of all of the rooms, as you did when you moved in. Also, take photographs of any problems or damages, which you will have, hopefully, discussed already with the landlord or letting agent. Remove all rubbish and belongings from the property, even if you don’t wish to take them on with you, as a charge will be made to remove any items left behind. If, after following this advice, you still have problems with retrieving your deposit, you can contact the tenancy deposit scheme with which yours is registered, who will give you advice, guidance and, if it comes to it, mediate a fair communication between yourself, the landlord and the letting agent with all of the evidence you have – so the paper trail and photos you have will be crucial to support your case.