The National Union of Students claims young people at college and university are being unfairly targeted by agents and landlords when it comes to deposit deductions.
In a feature on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme one student says: "I think landlords look at us and think we're just these dumb kids who don't know what we're doing…It's not fair, it's not OK."
She continues: "They decided we've not left the property in a fit state. Even though we've been there for two years, they've not allowed for wear and tear. We've been charged for weeding, we've apparently left the garden in not a fit state even though we had the next-door neighbour come over with his strimmer.”
According to NUS's Homes Fit For Study report, published earlier this year, 61 per cent of surveyed students who paid a deposit said they had received it back in full at the end of their tenancy.
But 27 per cent said they had challenged the deductions formally but ended up paying them anyway, and 24 per cent said they had not formally challenged the deductions but had disagreed with them.
"What we're seeing more and more is unfair contracts" says NUS vice-president, Eva Crossan Jory on the programme. She claims there are "landlords charging for things that are the result of wear-and-tear or where students have complained about something not working, the landlord doesn't fix it and then at the end of the tenancy tries to charge them for the breaking of said appliance. The government should be doing more to penalise landlords when they do break the law.”
The programme says that it has heard from “dozens” of student claiming that they are being penalised at check-out beyond any legitimate dedications for unpaid rent or damage to properties.
Some students have also claimed that landlords are ignoring the legal requirement to put deposits into the government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme at the beginning of a tenancy.
Another student claims his letting agent deducted £900 of his and his housemates' £1,400 deposit to cover learning, rubbish removal and repainting - all of which he disputes as either not being necessary or being in a similar condition to when he moved in.
Meera Chindoory from the National Landlords Association told the show: "Most landlords do not take unreasonable deductions from deposits, with an NUS survey last year showing that the majority of students [61 per cent] who pay a deposit have it returned in full.
"It's important that students understand their responsibilities in looking after the property - and that if they disagree with the landlord on damage, they can raise a dispute.”