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7 Tips To Get Your Rental Bond Back

Katie Douglass

Katie Douglass

May 19, 202110 minute read
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Moving house can be stressful enough without having to worry about whether you’ll get your rental bond back or not.

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    According to Domain, almost one in five households in New South Wales failed to get their entire bond back over the June quarter last year.

    Whether it’s about cleaning, fair wear and tear, or property damage, there are plenty of ways that renters can risk losing part or all of their bond. However, there are steps you can take to avoid this from happening.

    Below, we give a quick rundown of rental bonds, tips on how to get your bond back, and what to do if there’s a dispute.

    What is a rental bond?

    Before you move into a rental property, it is likely that you will have to pay a rental bond. A rental bond, also known as a security deposit, is a payment made by the tenant to a landlord or property manager before they move in. It acts as a financial security net for the landlord in the event of damaged property, missed rental payments, or any other breaches of the lease agreement.

    The bond amount varies from state to state, but will generally be the equivalent of four weeks’ rent. For example, if the rent you’ll be paying is $480 a week, your bond will be around $1,920. Here’s a quick rundown of the maximum bond payable in each state:

    • Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Northern Territory (NT), and Tasmania (TAS): 4 weeks rent.
    • New South Wales (NSW): 4 weeks rent.
    • Queensland (QLD): 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $700 or less. If the rent is higher than $700, it can be negotiated between the landlord/property manager and the tenant.
    • South Australia (SA): 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $250 or less. 6 weeks of rent if the weekly rent is more than $250.
    • Victoria (VIC): 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $350 or less. If the rent is higher than $350, it can be negotiated between the landlord/property manager and the tenant.
    • Western Australia (WA): 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $500 or less. If the rent is higher than $500, it can be negotiated between the landlord/property manager and the tenant.

    After the rental bond is paid by the tenant, a signed bond lodgement document should be submitted to the relevant state or territory bond authority. Make sure you receive a receipt once the bond has been paid. The bond authority will then hold the amount during the period of tenancy.

    7 tips to get your rental bond back

    Below, we’ve put together some tips to help you get your rental bond back at the end of your tenancy.

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    1. Fill out a detailed condition report

    One of the most important documents to have as a tenant is the condition report. At the beginning of your tenancy, the property manager will complete a report detailing the condition of the property, inside and outside. After they finish the report, it is then sent to you and you will have a certain number of days to add your own comments and photos.

    Take the report with you, go to every room in the property and make note and take photos of any marks, damage, cracks, or dents. For example, jot down any cracked ceilings, dirty walls, broken bathroom tiles, and peeling paint.

    Be as detailed as possible as the condition report can be used as evidence in the event of a dispute regarding your rental bond. After you complete and sign the report, keep a copy for your records.

    Know the difference between ‘fair wear and tear’ and damage

    It’s reasonable that a home lived in will have some fair wear and tear. As a tenant, you aren’t responsible for fair wear and tear but unexpected damage to the property can make you liable. For example, faded or cracked paint is generally deemed fair wear and tear but an unapproved paint job can be considered as damage.

    However, what’s considered ‘fair wear and tear’ as opposed to damage is often a source of dispute between the landlord or property manager and tenant. To get an idea of the difference between the two terms, here are some examples given by the NSW Fair Trading:

    Fair wear and tear Damage
    Faded curtains or frayed cords Missing or torn curtains
    Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet Stains or burn marks on the carpet
    Scuffed up wooden floors Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors
    Faded, chipped, or cracked paint Unapproved, poor quality paint job
    Worn kitchen benchtop Burns or cuts in the bench top
    Loose hinges or handles on doors or windows and worn sliding tracks Broken glass
    Water stains on carpet from rain through leaking roof or bad plumbing Water stains on carpet caused by overflowing bath or indoor pot plants
    Paint worn off wall near light switch Damage to paint caused by removing posters stuck with blu-tack or sticky tape
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    2. Report issues as they happen

    If any issues arise during your tenancy period, tell the property manager about it straight away instead of waiting until your lease ends. This way, you can avoid any delays regarding your bond refund especially if the property manager needs to hire a professional to repair the damage. However, keep in mind that you’ll still likely be required to pay for any issues beyond simple wear and tear that you report during the tenancy period. However, it will generally be cheaper if you arrange the quote instead of the real estate agent.

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    3. Don’t change anything without written permission

    Whether you want to replace blinds or put in hooks, any alterations (no matter how minor) should be approved by the landlord first. If they have approved it, make sure you receive written permission. This can come in handy if, say, at the final inspection, the property manager claims they didn’t approve the blind replacement or hooks.

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    4. Consider a pre-vacate inspection

    A pre-vacate (or pre-exit) inspection sees the real estate agent or property manager inspect the property before the tenants move out. This allows the property manager to discuss any areas of concern that need to be addressed in order to receive your bond back. It’s a handy way to clarify the agent’s interpretation of what is ‘good condition’. Ask if you can obtain a checklist that outlines what they expect you to do when you vacate.

    It is also worth considering attending the final inspection where you can address issues as they come up, as well as hand over all relevant keys and household items.

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    5. Clean the property thoroughly

    One of the most important parts of getting your rental bond back is making sure the property is clean. This is because the landlord can make a claim on your bond if the property isn’t near to the same condition as when you moved in.

    First step is to check the tenancy agreement to see what is stated and expected of the tenant. For example, many lease agreements require the tenant to get a professional steam clean of the carpets. You can request a full list from your property manager of what exactly needs to be cleaned.

    While you could employ some elbow grease, giving your place a thorough clean yourself can often be time-consuming. From cleaning skirting boards and windows to removing any traces of pets (if applicable) and fixing lights, it can be an exhausting process.

    The easiest way to ensure the property is in good condition is hiring a professional cleaner. While it comes at an extra cost, a bond cleaner knows exactly what is expected and required by the agent. Plus, most bond cleaners guarantee their work so if there’s an issue, they can go back to the property and amend it for free. A handy tip is to use one that the agent recommends. Before it is given a professional clean, try to do a quick clean yourself to help cut down on costs.

    After the property has been professionally cleaned, make sure to keep all receipts and quotes in the event of disputes. Additionally, don’t leave anything behind as you can be charged by the property manager for the cost of removing your items.

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    6. Return all keys

    After you have vacated the rental property, you will need to hand over all of the keys, security devices, and any other items you were given. If you don’t do this, the house can be deemed as unsecured and you might have to pay the cost of replacing the keys or items and replacing the locks. If you lose a key during your tenancy, make sure to tell your landlord and property manager straight away.

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    7. Complete all rental payments and invoices

    Before you move out, make sure that all rental payments and relevant invoices are settled. This will be the final step in getting your rental bond back. If you were paying a water bill as part of your lease agreement, you can expect to receive a bill that will either need to be paid directly or deducted from your bond.

    If you don’t complete all rental payments, you can risk being put on a blacklist on the tenancy database. This can significantly affect your ability to be approved for future rental applications and is also seen as a violation of the law in some Australian states.

    What if there is a dispute about your rental bond?

    If a claim is made against your bond and you don’t agree with it, there are a few steps you can take. Keep in mind that each state and territory in Australia can have different requirements when it comes to bond disputes.

    Receive a Notice of Claim

    If the property manager or landlord has lodged a claim against your bond, you should receive a Notice of Claim from the relevant bond authority. Make sure that the landlord or agent has provided you with evidence for the claim/s they are making including any receipts, quotations, and the original condition report.

    Try to negotiate

    If you disagree with the claim, the first step is to contact your property manager or landlord to try and resolve the dispute. Ideally, you want to try to negotiate with them to avoid going to a tribunal. Often, a mediator is brought in to help both parties resolve the dispute.

    If both parties reach an agreement, a Refund of Rental Bond form should be provided to fill in and sign. After this is signed, the bond is then returned.

    Apply to the relevant tribunal

    If you can’t reach a decision with the landlord or property manager, you can apply to your state or territory tribunal and request a hearing. You will need to do this within seven days of receiving the Notice of Claim being lodged.

    A tribunal is an independent judicial body that handles disputes between landlords and tenants. The process of going to the tribunal can differ across states and territories so make sure to check what’s required on the relevant tribunal’s website. Generally, the information you’ll need handy if your dispute goes to the tribunal includes:

    • A receipt of the bond amount paid;
    • A copy of the lease agreement to show the start tenancy date and type of tenancy (either fixed or periodic);
    • A copy of the condition report to show evidence of the condition of the property before starting tenancy;
    • Any images, copies of letters, emails, and other correspondence;
    • The amount of notice given by the tenant or landlord to end the tenancy.

    Helpful resources

    Navigating the end of a lease agreement can be an overwhelming process, let alone trying to understand what your rights are as a tenant. If you are experiencing issues with your rental bond and need advice or advocacy, each state or territory has a tenants’ support service available. Here’s a list of who you can go to in each state or territory:

    Copyright © www.jacarandafinance.com.au Jacaranda Finance Pty Ltd ® ABN 53 162 078 195 Australian Credit Licence 456 404, Pawnbroking License Number 4221738. The information on this web-page is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Information provided on this website is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.

    Katie Douglass
    Katie Douglass

    Written by Katie Douglass

    Katie Douglass is the Senior Communications Manager at Jacaranda Finance. In recent years, Katie’s work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, InStyle, Oiyo, and THE ICONIC. She has a Bachelor of Creative Industries in Fashion Communication & Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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