For as long we can remember students in Brighton have faced the same issue when reaching the end of their tenancies and that is the difficulty in getting their deposits back.
We caught up Brighton & Oxford University graduate, James Massey, who not content with only ensuring that he and his housemates get their deposits back, James is on a mission to ensure all students have the best possible chance of getting their deposit back but also making sure students are aware of the simple steps they can take to satisfy their landlord and letting agencies.
ROX: Hi James, so The Student Cleaning Company what is it and what makes you different?
James: Hi guys, thank you for having me on. As a recently graduated student myself I have had the unfortunate experience of moving from student let to student let over the last few years and couldn't believe the lengths and difficulty myself and my housemates had to go to in order to get our deposit back when moving out. The properties we rented all required full, deep end of tenancy cleans which traditionally are expensive and can be pain staking to organise. I asked a few of my friends and heard similar stories many times over, in fact, I would say over 90% of students at point will face issues at the end of their tenancies. The number one common problem students faced every time they moved was it. nearly impossible to get your full deposit. It is common knowledge amongst the student community that many students have faced bad experiences. From unfair emergency cleaning fees, hidden charges and losses from deposits returns are all factors which every year cause losses to students finances, time, effort, health and general wellbeing!
It was quite clear this was a huge problem and so we set out to do something about it. We contacted the local universities and let them know that we are looking to set this cleaning company up with a focus on getting full recovery of student deposits back, but also to help ensure that the students are away of everything they need to do to ensure they are ticking all the boxes on their end as many are simply unaware. We quickly realised there is a common goal whether you are a student, landlord, letting agent or the university who wants to protect its students from unfair treatment. The happy outcome for all parties is students get their full deposit back and landlords have a clean property ready for rental with no long drawn out process, which really doesn’t suit anyone involved.
ROX: Sounds long overdue and a little bit of a no brainer for everyone involved! We know you are still a relatively new company but can you tell us about any steps have you taken so far that has worked or been well received.
James: Definitely, the introduction of 'proof of clean certificates.' Really simple but every time we carry out an end of tenancy clean we send a dated proof of clean certificate to the tenants so they can effectively show 'proof' of a full end of tenancy clean. This really aids deposit recovery and is an easy way for the landlord to have a little peace of mind and you both know that you are meeting your contractual obligations with actual evidence as proof.
ROX: Sounds fantastic and long overdue! We know that you trialed the student cleaning company service last year... How did that go and what did you learn?
James: We tested the service in two cities Brighton and Oxford. This was to test and find out about any unforeseeable problems, iron out the minor details and get some important, valuable feedback. We performed better than we ever expected too with a 100% deposit recovery. This shows deposit recovery can be less complicated and straightforward as long as students are aware of the process and the steps they need to take. We found that too often students will move out and get a message from the landlord or estate agent who will force an expensive over priced cleaning company on to the students or demand it’s done within the next week which causes all sorts of problems logistically and financially.
We also learned that students do not like paying big lump sums up front. This has been amplified especially over the last year as other housemates might have moved away, not moved in at all or be harder to contact as a result of the pandemic. So we introduced a booking system where you can book and confirm your date with us and then pay nothing for 30 days. This gives you time to pop a message in the group chat and crucially collect the amount from all of your housemates over the next month instead of making a big upfront risky payment when budgets are tight.
ROX: Well, as you are aware James, we were actually one of the guinea pigs and we must say the whole process was effortless. You go on to the website and there is a really useful booking with us guide with lots of information which makes it really easy. Within 5 minutes we had everything booked, we then collected the fair share from our housemates and payment was taken a whole month later. Things didn't end there as we then got sent a guide on what we need to do to prepare for the clean. In all honestyfor a few months we didn’t think about the clean at all then a few weeks before we had scheduled our clean we got a timely reminder email. Two days before the clean was due we got a call from The Student Cleaning Company (TSCC) guys who ran us though everything had were ready to answer any questions we had. It was still Covid, so TSCC collected the keys from the estate agents and we had no contact and nothing to arrange on the day of the clean. The day after our property was cleaned we received an emailed with a proof of clean certificate and receipt attached. We simply sent that on to our estate agent and landlord. Surprisingly, we moved out of the property a week later and had no issues whatsoever with deposit recovery receiving our deposit back in full with no questions asked! We have to be honest as this was our first experience getting a property cleaned at the end of a tenancy so can’t personally relate to the mountain of horror stories but we know SO many friends and people who have had issues and its dragged on for months and months… what an unnecessary nightmare to go through! It must have taken a while to perfect the whole booking system but it is great you are doing this James as it does work so effectively for everyone involved. Before you go, anything you want to leave us with!?
James: Thank you for the kind words, hearing that just further justifies our company mission. It is our mission as a company to return your property as you found it and support you in getting your deposit back. We also donate to The Starr Trust which is a charity supporting young persons in Brighton. For every room cleaned we donate £1 to The Starr Trust which quickly builds up to a sizeable amount. We wanted to giveback and support young people in the city as our whole business is founded and focused on young people so it only felt right. Clean House, Clean Conscious sort of thing!
Lastly if you book early with us (at least a month in advance) you can get 10% of the entire clean use the code ‘booknowpaylater’ at the checkout on our website. Thank you.