A student’s guide to spending, saving cash, and getting your deposit back

Enrolling at university is an exciting time in many young peoples’ lives. It gives you your first taste of independence and provides plenty of opportunities to make new friends, party and have loads of fresh experiences. 

While becoming more independent can be exhilarating, there are certain milestones that need to be navigated along the way. Renting your first ever property is one such milestone, and it is an experience that can be fraught with anxiety.

Whether you are sharing a property with a group of mates or going it alone, your concerns are likely common ones. 

If you’re worried about whether or not you will get your deposit back, you are not alone. Most contracts dictate that the property you rent must be returned in the same condition it was let, with a clause allowing for ‘fair wear and tear’. 

As reasonable as this sounds, not all landlords interpret this equally which can leave renters, especially first-timers, open to vulnerability.

Let us guide you through the best products to invest in, and some tips for keeping your costs down throughout your tenancy term and safeguarding your deposit.

Make it snappy
The single best piece of advice we can offer is to photograph each room of the house, both when you move in and when you move out. This is important because you will need photographic evidence should you ever dispute charges made against your deposit.

 Be sure to take photos of any faults that you find, label and date them, and send copies to your landlord alongside a detailed inventory. Your landlord will need to sign these off, safeguarding you and your housemates for the duration of your tenancy.

Get tooled up
Chances are, you’ll find the odd rusted hand tool lying about, abandoned by a previous tenant. Though you may be able to muddle through with these and other improvised tools, in truth every house needs a properly equipped tool kit. 

This 56 piece set from Forge Steel comes supplied with every type of tool you can imagine including pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches and saws. With it, you’ll be able to tackle practically every small household job you come across, saving you money in the long-term and equipping you with essential life skills.

Power through
If you’re planning on personalising your space with Swedish furniture or populating walls with artwork, investing in a power drill will save both your time and labour. 

You could also increase your popularity no end by rescuing fellow housemates from a soul-destroying five-hour session with a screwdriver and a BILLY Bookcase. 

For our money, this Hitachi cordless combi drill represents the ideal compromise between quality and value for domestic use. You can thank us later.

Don’t be a damp squib
Discussing damp is perhaps not the most dynamic way to kick off a conversation, but it can cause numerous problems for those who find themselves stuck with this slimy cohabitant. 

There are things you can do to avoid inviting it in: try not to dry clothing in unventilated rooms, for example, and open your windows every so often, even in winter. 

If you notice damp when you move in, be sure to notify your landlord about it. You can help to control an existing damp problem by leaving your heating on for at least an hour a day or, for more stubborn cases, by using a dehumidifier

Bright idea
A great piece of advice is to replace all the bulbs in your new property with their LED equivalents.  LEDs are tremendously efficient, requiring only a third of the electricity of a regular luminescent or halogen bulb to generate the equivalent level of brightness. 

This, coupled with the unusually long lifespan of an LED bulb means you could find yourself saving up to 90% on your annual energy bill by switching to them.

Screw about
A packet of screws, like a box of tools, is a very useful thing to have about the house. Whether you’re looking to fix your television to the wall or knock up a few shelves to house your prized collection of graphic novels and science fiction toys (… just me?), you’ll need screws. 

If you’re moving into a more modern property, opt for cavity fixings. These are designed for use with hollow surfaces, and are ideal for the walls you find in contemporary housing.

Following these tips should minimise the chance of you and your housemates losing your deposit. Treat the place with respect, try to party elsewhere whenever possible, and remember to educate yourself about your rights. 

As a last resort and in instances where you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, you have the option of taking your landlord to the Private Residential Tenancies Board

Here, both parties submit evidence and you may well win back some of your deposit money if you can build a strong enough case in your favour. 

Need to fix up your house? With students can avail of a 10% discount when shopping in Screwfix’s online store.