A rental bond, also commonly known as a security deposit, is a pre-agreed-upon amount of money paid by the tenant to the landlord when moving into a rental property. The bond serves as insurance for the landlord; the landlord can draw on the bond in case the property suffers significant damage or excessive wear and tear.
Before moving into any new rental property, it's necessary to understand the laws and regulations surrounding rental bonds, and what you can do to ensure your bond is returned to you in full when it comes time to move out.
Taking photos or videos of preexisting property damage, and communicating the damages to your landlord, serves as a safeguard. If you're uncertain about whether to communicate minor damage, err on the side of caution and communicate any and all damage.
The sooner you're able to communicate any preexisting wear and tear to your landlord, the better. This documentation becomes particularly important during the landlord's final walk-through at the end of the lease agreement, as the tenant can use it as proof that any preexisting wear and tear was not caused by you.
When approaching the end of your lease, taking the time to rigorously clean your rental property can significantly reduce the possibility of your bond payment being used.
The law protects tenants by preventing landlords from using the bond payment for "fair wear," which refers to the expected wear and tear that occurs to an occupied property over time. Common examples of fair wear include:
Fair wear doesn't encompass damage to the property that could have been avoided if the tenant had taken appropriate care of the premises. Therefore, landlords can use your bond payment for excessive wear and tear, such as substantial mould, broken windows and carpet tears.
Since excessive damage to a rental property can result in deductions from your bond payment, it's a good idea to take the time to clean up any messes that fall outside of normal wear and tear. This might include pet stains or other types of significant damage. Additionally, tackling any necessary repairs or maintenance on your own can help minimise the risk of losing part of your bond payment.
The legislation surrounding bond payments changes depending on where in Australia you're located. For Queenslanders, the rules surrounding bond payments are found in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.
All bond payments must be submitted by landlords to the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), who retain the funds for the duration of the tenancy and handle the refund process at the end. At the end of a lease, tenants have the option to transfer the bond from one tenancy to another. Alternatively, either the tenant or landlord can lodge a bond refund request to the RTA.
Most commonly, if no disputes are made, you can expect to receive your bond refund within 2-3 days.
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