How to get your rental bond back
Before we get into how to get your bond back, let’s do a quick recap on what is a rental bond.
A rental bond is a one off payment paid by a tenant to the landlord or agent at the start of a tenancy and acts as a form of financial protection in case there’s a breach of the lease agreement. It’s paid in addition to rent or rent in advance. It normally consists of 4 – 6 weeks rent and is usually paid when the lease agreement is signed. When the property manager receives the bond payment, it’s sent to the local Bond Authority and held in a trust account for the period of the tenancy.
At the end of the tenancy agreement, the property manager will inspect the property and assess its condition against the original condition report. In some cases, the property manager may make a claim against the bond, or in other words they believe that you owe money. Here are some examples of how a landlord can make a claim against a bond:
- If the tenant stills owes rent or has an unpaid water bill
- If the tenant broke the lease early and hasn’t paid the break fee or other compensation payable
- If you the tenant didn’t hand back all the copies of the keys they were given and the locks needed to be changed
- If the tenant caused damage or did not leave the property in a reasonably clean condition compared to the original condition report, apart from fair wear and tear
How to get your bond back
A good guide to work from to ensure you get a full bond refund is ensuring all rental payments & invoices are made and are up to date (check your “rent paid to” date) Also review the condition report you signed when you moved in – the property should be returned in the same or better condition than when you moved in, excluding fair wear and tear. If you are unsure, talk to your Landlord or Property Manager.
The simplest action to make sure your landlord is satisfied at the final inspection is to keep things clean and well-maintained from the beginning. It's easy when you start a tenancy to put cleaning on the back burner, safe in the knowledge that you'll have time for it later.
Keeping a clean household, whether you're living alone, with family or in shared accommodation, only becomes more difficult when you neglect it. If things get out of hand, you can bring in professional cleaning help. The costs of household services however - which have risen almost 2 per cent in the last year - can add up, leaving you opening your wallet just to try and get money back.
Follow your tenancy agreement
For better or worse, everything required of you is laid out in your tenancy agreement, the legal document you signed at the beginning of your stay. Before scheduling your final inspection, carefully go through your agreement, checking off your obligations.
In some cases there will be conditions that differ between tenancies, so make sure to read everything carefully, following the agreement to the letter. Your opinion on whether your carpets need steam-cleaning is irrelevant - if you agreed to it, it's your responsibility to pay for this and you must follow through.
Fair wear and tear
The good news is you are not responsible for what is called fair wear and tear, which according to NSW Fair Trading, means the normal deterioration of a property from ordinary, everyday use. Exposure to the elements, time and day to day living can cause fair wear and tear. Although real estate tenancy laws vary across each state and territory, the industry broadly accepts this definition. Examples of fair wear and tear include:
- Faded curtains or frayed cords
- Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet
- Scuffed up wooden floors
- Faded, chipped or cracked paint
- Worn kitchen benchtop
- Loose hinges or handles on doors or windows and worn sliding tracks
- Cracks in the walls from movement
- Water stain on carpet from rain through leaking roof or bad plumbing
- Worn paint near light switch
For more information on the difference between wear and tear and damage click here
What to do if you disagree with the bond claim
If you receive a Notice of Claim from the Bond Authority, this means your property manager or Landlord has lodged a claim against your bond. If you disagree with the claim, you need to act quickly. Firstly, contact them and find out about their claim and try to negotiate an agreement. If you come to an agreement you can both fill in and sign a new Refund of Rental Bond form to immediately release the bond.
If you disagree with their claim, you should apply to your state or territories Civil and Administrative Tribunal and request a hearing. Keep in mind you need to do this within approximately 7 days of the Notice of Claim being lodged otherwise the bond will be released according to the claim lodged by the other party. The requirements here vary in each state and territory so make sure you check this carefully.
If your landlord or agent has told you they are claiming something from the bond, but have not provided you with the evidence for the claim or you’re not sure what they are claiming, you can ask for a statement itemising all of the landlords claims. You can also ask for all quotations, accounts, receipts and other documents supporting these claims and a copy of the original condition report. It’s also a good idea to ask for a copy of the latest water bill which will often help work out if you owe any money to the landlord.
Refunding the rental bond
Once you have agreed with your landlord or property manager regarding how the rental bond will be refunded, a signed refund form must be submitted to the relevant government office. Typically, bonds are credited by cheque or direct deposit.