What is a rental bond and how do you get it back?

Getting your rental bond back is one thing that rental tenants always worry about when moving out of their rental property.

So what happens if you leave the property in good condition, yet your landlord disagrees and refuses to give you the full bond back? There are many options that you can take which I will explain later on.

What is a rental bond?

Firstly, when you move into a rental property, you must provide a sum of money to your landlord or the property manager. This money, often called a ‘security deposit’ is held by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. This money still belongs to you and not the agent or landlord. When your tenancy comes to an end and you move out, this money will be given back to you if you leave the property in good condition; however the landlord might be able to claim part or the full bond as compensation if there is any property damage, or unpaid rent.

How much is a rental bond?

Generally, the maximum rental bond that can be charged by a property manager or owner is four weeks rent, if this rent is $700 or less a week. Above $700, there is no limit on how much this bond could be.

Paying your rental bond

When it’s time to pay your bond, both you and the landlord or the property manager must sign a completed Bond Lodgement form from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. Make sure you receive a copy of these forms for your own record and ensure you keep these forms safe for future reference.

It is the landlord’s or property manager’s job to lodge the rental bond and forms with the Bond Authority within 10 business days of you paying it and you will receive confirmation of this lodgement.

What happens at the end of a tenancy?

There are a number of things that could happen at the end of a tenancy in terms of your rental bond.
  1. No claim is made by the landlord against your bond and you receive the full bond back.
  2. The landlord believes a certain amount of money should be deducted due to damage/ unpaid rent etc and you agree with this amount being taken from your bond.
  3. The landlord believes a certain amount of money should be deducted due to damage or unpaid rent which you do not agree with and the landlord applies to Tribunal for an order that they are paid some or all of the bond.
  4. You apply to the Tribunal to claim the full bond back.

Key things to get your bond back

If you are relying and hoping to get your full bond back, there are a number of things that you should do.
  1. Do a full exit report and take photos as evidence. Ideally you should do a full condition report when you first move in and take photos or video of this so you can compare the two.
  2. Hire professional cleaners to clean the property thoroughly. Check your rental agreement as your landlord or property manager may state that a certain cleaner must be used.
  3. Ensure there is no property damage such as broken cupboard doors and fix these if possible.
  4. If the landlord wants to keep hold of some of the bond money, make sure you check the reasons why to ensure they are legitimate reasons.
  5. Ensure you continue paying rent on time.

Fair wear and tear

It is important to remember that the property is allowed ‘fair wear and tear’. This can include things like scuff marks on walls or slight wear in the carpet, but would not include things like red wine stains on the carpet, holes in walls or broken blinds. If you believe that the property is in good condition and that you are not responsible or should not be made to pay a claim, then you might be able to defend a claim on your bond by applying to the Tribunal for the return of your bond.

Applying for Tribunal

Many rental tenants might not like the idea of going to court to attempt to get your full bond back. However, if you seriously believe that your landlord is taking advantage of you then you should fight for your bond back and not let them get away with it. Of course you should try to reason with your landlord first to come to an agreement; however if this fails then you should apply for a Tribunal.

If you go down this route, ensure you take the following information with you to a Tribunal hearing:
  • The amount of bond paid
  • The date that you started the tenancy and type of tenancy
  • The amount of notice given to end the tenancy
  • Any evidence about the property condition at the start and end of the tenancy.
If it is decided by the Tribunal that you should be awarded your bond back, you will have to complete a Bond Claim form so that the money can be released from the Bond Authority.
Published on 26th of March 2015 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich

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