A few simple but important steps can ensure you get your precious bond cash back.
Bonds are typically cash security deposits held to motivate tenants to uphold the terms of the rental agreement. In most Australian States, bonds must be lodged with the rental bond authority.
Bond claims are generally limited to: rental arrears, damage beyond wear and tear and usage charges such as water (where permitted).
The key documents relating to bond refunds are:
- Rental agreement
- Bond lodgement receipt
- Ingoing and outgoing report
- Periodic inspection report
- Repair and maintenance requests
To ensure you get your bond back when you vacate, it’s important to take actions before you move in, throughout the tenancy and at the end when returning the property.
Rental agreement - aside from paying the rent due check for any special clauses such as maintaining the garden or pool. Ensure that you comply with these clauses.
Bond lodgement receipt - this shows how much bond was lodged and is potentially refundable.
Ingoing and outgoing report - this report is prepared by the property manager and must be signed by the tenants. This report allows both parties to determine and agree upon the initial and final condition of the property. This checklist will help in eliminating any misunderstandings. When you move in check carefully the items that are unclean, damaged and not working as these may be assessed as your damage and become a liability.
Prior to receiving the keys from the landlord, the tenant should ensure that the the condition of the property is noted in the checklist. Document the condition of the appliances, windows, displays, blinds, doors, walls, lighting, floor covering, a/c, heating, bathrooms, faucets, ceiling followers, and any other needed interior and also exterior areas.
As you move in and move out, record images or video of the residential property, in case a dispute arises down the track surrounding the condition of the property. The “Move-In” checklist additionally assists to avoid the usual “It worked or was this way when you moved in” disagreement. Furthermore, if an area or device shows signs of damage or heavy wear and tear, and requires repairs, the repair can be justified by referencing the initial condition.
Document repairs and maintenance
Keep notes, emails and text messages of any repairs and maintenance. Check that repairs by tradespeople haven’t caused any damage which you could be held accountable for.
If you are in the property for an extended period, the property manager is likely to conduct periodic inspections. Keep notes from these inspections.
The property manager should recommend the tenant in writing that they are entitled to a volunteer pre-move-out inspection around 2 weeks prior to the final date on the lease. However, if they fail to do so, tenants can ask for a pre-move-out examination in writing.
This is a voluntary assessment, however it is in the best interest of the tenant to allow for both parties to freely check the property and contrast the condition against the completed ingoing report.
The pre-move-out inspection is a chance for the property manager to examine the property and encourage the tenant, based on the current condition, of possible efforts to pre-emptively fix any issues that would incur a bond claim if not attended-to.
Aside from rental arrears, the cleanliness of the property is the number one reason that bonds are not refunded in full. Consider hiring a cleaner if you don’t have the time or energy to clean the property to the standard as it was presented to you.
Tip: try to settle any claim directly with the property manager and obtain a full bond refund, it looks better on your next rental application.