The rental bond is a safe keep for agents should the tenant not meet their obligations, however there are strict guidelines that dictate whether those funds can be withheld at the end of a lease.
The RTA reported the most common reasons for withholding a tenants bond in 2018 included:
- Unpaid rent
- Unpaid utility bills
- Breaking a lease early and not paying relevant fees
- Not handing back all the copies of the keys, requiring the locks to be changed
- Causing damage to the property beyond fair wear and tear
- Not leaving the premises in a reasonably clean condition
- Taking items included in the rental property, including plants from gardens.
The expectation of a tenant vacating a property is to leave the home as they found it at the start of their lease. Sounds easy enough, but here are a few pointers to ensure you receive your full bond refund.
Check your initial condition report before applying for a bond refund
This report is as important at the start of the lease, as it is by the end. If you failed to note existing damage when you completed the check you may be required to complete the repairs before moving out.
Move through each room and check the photos included to determine what you need to sort out before your moving date, and what was existing damage, or wear and tear.
Know the difference between wear and tear, and actual damage
Do you know what wear and tear you are required to fix, and what is considered reasonable damage over time? For example, mould in the bathroom must be removed by the tenant, but wearing down of the carpet in the hallway is acceptable.
The Tenants Union states defines wear and tear as: Minor damage or deterioration caused by normal human use or natural forces/action. In some cases even major damage, if caused over a long period of time and through normal use of the property might be fair wear and tear. For example if you lived in a property for 10 years and the carpet has deteriorated significantly in high traffic areas you may not be responsible for replacement.
Speak with your property manager
Agents conduct inspections every week and know what they are looking for. Before you start cleaning, speak to your agent and ask for a checklist to use as you complete your exit clean.
If you know of any damage you have caused in your time, let your agent know as they will have contacts to help complete the repairs in a fast and professional manner. For example a spot of damage in carpet can be easily replaced with a square of the same carpet when you have all the details at hand.
Follow up all your bills
Once of the most common reasons for withholding bond is unpaid bills. Be sure to contact your electricity, gas, phone, internet and any other utility providers in advance so you can settle or transfer your accounts to your new address.
Book the professionals
Some states require professional cleaners and carpet cleaning to be completed at the end of a tenancy. Again, your agent will be able to give direction in regard to what needs to be cleaned as part of your exit clean such as fans, vents, filters, blinds, ovens and behind appliances.
Move out with time to spare
Don’t leave the final clean to the last day of your lease as it does not allow time for you to rectify any issues identified in the inspection. Try and leave a few days before required to ensure you have time to complete any repairs or do some extra cleaning to ensure you meet your obligations as a tenant.
Be there until the end
It pays to be there at your final inspection to hand over all the keys and walk around with the agent. This is your last chance to have a direct communication with them at the property, and to see first-hand any items that may need further attention.