8 October 2019

Renting: how to ensure you get your bond back

Pat Carbone
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The average rental bond is a decent chunk of money that can be helpful for so many things – like securing your next property – so getting it back should be your highest priority when your tenancy ends. If you do everything right as you leave, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be refunded.

Here’s what you need to do to make sure your bond ends up in your pocket, not your landlord’s.

READ YOUR LEASE THOROUGHLY

Give your lease a good read before you sign it at the start of your tenancy so that you know exactly what’s in there. By understanding its contents, there is much less chance of nasty surprises at the end of your tenancy.

BE CAREFUL WHEN CHECKING THE PROPERTY CONDITION REPORT

At the start of the tenancy, you’ll get a chance to either prepare the property condition report with your landlord or review it once they’ve completed it. It should include photos and short descriptions of any and all damage in the property, and it is most definitely in your best interest to make sure it’s detailed and correct.

Before you move in, walk around the rental with the condition report and take photos of any damage that hasn’t been included, then send those to the landlord and ask for the report to be amended to include them.

TELL THE LANDLORD ABOUD DAMAGE IMMEDIATELY

If any damage occurs during your tenancy, tell your landlord about it right away, and if it’s not your fault they’ll pay for the repairs. If you don’t tell them and they discover it at the end of the tenancy, they will likely attempt to take the cost of repairs out of your bond.

SETTLE YOUR RENT

When your tenancy is finishing, always make sure you’ve paid your rent in full. If you don’t, your landlord will take any outstanding amount out of your bond.

CLEAN THROUGHOUT YOUR TENANCY AND WHEN YOU LEAVE

Don’t get stuck with a bill for a professional cleaner. Take half a day before your tenancy ends to give the property a good clean – vacuum, dust, wipe and tidy until it’s in the same condition it was when you first moved in. Rental law in most states only require the property to be ‘reasonably clean’ so you don’t necessarily have to go to extremes like steam cleaning the carpets unless it’s in your tenancy agreement.

REMEMBER THE RULES OF YOUR TENANCY

In most states, your landlord will have to provide you with a guide to your tenancy and all your obligations at the start. Take the time to read this so that you know exactly what’s required of you.

Most importantly, you must give correct written notice to vacate even at the end of a fixed lease agreement. if you don’t, your landlord may take the cost of the breach out of your bond.

LEAVE BY THE DUE DATE AND TAKE EVERYTHING WITH YOU (EXCEPT THE KEYS)

When your tenancy is over, leave on time and take everything with you. Some tenants leave rubbish, furniture or other items behind, and usually the cost of removing things like this is taken from their bonds.

When you leave, arrange with the landlord to either hand the keys to them or leave them somewhere safe at the property.

ATTEND THE FINAL INSPECTION

When the landlord completes the final inspection of the property, you should be there in person. That way you can verify any damage they note down, or dispute it if it was already there.

UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS OF RETURNING YOUR BOND

At the end of your tenancy you should fill out a claim for refund of bond money or your state’s equivalent and give it to your property manager once you’ve agreed upon how much of your bond will be refunded.

You’ll need to include the details of the bank account that you want the bond refunded to and your contact details.

WHAT IF YOU DISAGREE WITH YOUR LANDLORD?

If you disagree with your landlord about damage at the property or your bond refund, then you can apply to your state’s tribunal to provide evidence of your claim. Check your state office’s website for details or ask a local ombudsman if you’re unsure.

CHECKLIST FOR LEAVING YOUR PROPERTY

If you tick all of these boxes before you leave the property, you’ll increase your chances of getting your bond back:

  • Given or received notice in writing
  • Confirm arrangements for the agent or landlord to access the property in writing
  • Schedule a final inspection
  • Disconnect all utilities in your name
  • Take time stamped photos of meters
  • Clean property to a reasonable standard
  • Take photos and videos of the condition of the property – do your own condition report
  • Pay the correct amount of rent
  • Return your keys and get a receipt
  • Print bond return form and take to the final inspection
  • Attend final inspection
  • Resolve any issues with the condition of the property
  • Sign bond return form and lodge with the relevant office (the agent may do this for you)

So, if you follow the procedures laid out in your tenancy agreement when you first agree to it, you should have no worries getting your bond back. Reasonable wear and tear is expected in rental properties, however your definition of “reasonable” could differ dramatically from your landlord’s, so always ask questions and make sure you’re ticking the checklist to give yourself the best chance at getting your entire bond back.

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