There are a lot of things on the to-do list when you’re moving out of your rental property. We’ve covered the main ones here: removing items, cleaning, checking the ingoing condition report, disconnecting utilities and returning keys. But there’s one more important thing to cover: getting your bond back.
At the start of your tenancy, you will have lodged a bond equivalent to four weeks’ rent with the Rental Bond Board. Bonds are held as a security deposit – a type of safeguard against any breaches of the tenancy agreement. At the end of your tenancy, provided you’ve adhered to a certain set of guidelines, you will be entitled to a refund of the entire bond amount.
Here are the steps involved in getting your bond back.
1. ENSURE YOUR RENTAL PAYMENTS ARE UP TO DATE
If your rent payments aren’t fully up to date (i.e. you’re in arrears), you won’t get the full amount of your bond back. The outstanding amount will be deducted from your bond.
It’s important to note that a ‘just take it out of the bond’ mindset should not be adopted as a reason not to pay rent in the weeks leading up to moving out of a property. You’ll need to keep paying rent as normal up until the date you vacate – the bond is separate from the rent and cannot be used to cover rent payments.
2. ENSURE THERE’S NO DAMAGE BEYOND ‘FAIR WEAR AND TEAR’
A common reason for tenants not to receive their full bond back is that the property has incurred damages beyond ‘fair wear and tear’. The owner can then take the cost of repairing the damages out of the bond.
According to Fair Trading, fair wear and tear refers to ‘deterioration that occurs over time with the use of the premises even when the premises receives reasonable care and maintenance’. This means things like worn kitchen benchtops, faded paint and traffic marks on the carpet can’t be claimed as damages – they come under fair wear and tear.
However, if there are gouge or burn marks on the benchtops, an unauthorised paint job, or stains on the carpet, these count as damages and the costs of repairing them can be deducted from the bond.
As long as you’ve been keeping the property in reasonable condition throughout your tenancy, and you haven’t caused any out-of-the-ordinary damage or changes, getting your bond back should be no trouble.
3. ENSURE THE PROPERTY IS CLEAN
Another reason tenants find themselves with a claim on their bond is due to incomplete or inadequate cleaning of the property.
Remember that the property must match the state of cleanliness it was in when you moved in. This can be determined by the ingoing condition report that was filled in by both you and your property manager when you commenced your tenancy.
Take a look at step 2 in our article on moving out of a rental property for a basic end of tenancy cleaning checklist.
4. DISCUSS ANY CLAIMS WITH YOUR PROPERTY MANAGER/LANDLORD
Once you’ve done all of the above, your property manager will conduct a final inspection of the property. They’ll consult with the landlord to see if they wish to make a claim on the bond, and then discuss the results with you.
There are three potential outcomes:
- No damages or issues are identified and it is agreed that you’ll be getting your bond back in full
- Damages are identified and discussed with you, and you and your landlord agree on an amount to be taken out of the bond
- You and your landlord disagree on bond claims they wish to make. If this disagreement cannot be resolved, the matter will need to be taken to tribunal.
If your situation has the first or second outcome, you’ll move onto the following step.
5. WAIT FOR YOUR PROPERTY MANAGER TO SUBMIT A CLAIM TO THE BOND BOARD
After you’ve discussed it with your property manager, they will lodge the bond claim, either releasing the full bond amount to you or claiming part of the bond as agreed with the landlord.
If your bond is being refunded in full, you’ll receive a notification that payment is being processed, and funds will be deposited in the bank account you have nominated.
If your landlord is claiming part of the bond, you’ll receive a message that you will need to respond to, agreeing to the bond claim amount (or advising that a tribunal hearing is to be held). Funds will then be disbursed to the relevant accounts.
A final note to those sharing a rental property: remember that the bond cannot be split. The entire amount will be returned to the same account from which it was originally deposited, and it’s then up to tenants to distribute among themselves if needed.
For more information on end-of-tenancy processes, take a look at our articles on breaking a lease and what to do when your landlord is selling. And if you’re looking for a new place to live, check out our available rentals!