Tenants coming to the end of their rental agreement and looking to move on undoubtedly want to get their rent bond back in the form of a bond refund. Usually a sum amounting to four weeks of rent, your initial rent bond payment may be a substantial outlay that can be used for future rental homes or even to help you into purchasing.
However, there can be situations where your landlord is able to keep a portion, or the total, of your rent bond payment. Luckily there are ways to avoid this from happening or to salvage as much of your bond refund as possible.
Here are 10 steps towards getting your bond refund.
1) Check your initial condition report before applying for a bond refund
Find the condition report provided to you (following you signing the rental lease agreement) by your property manager when you entered the house. This will quickly allow you to assess the condition of the house or apartment now compared to when you initially signed your lease. Your property manager will be using this same report to determine whether they need to deduct funds from the bond.
Take the report room by room and note down anything that’s substantially different from the original report.
Include areas where it is more dirty or messy than originally noted, including the front and back gardens. These differences are what you will need to focus on to ensure you do not lose your bond. Take care to do this with enough time prior to the end of your lease to ensure you can look into bringing the property back to its original condition.
2) Be honest about what counts as damage
Not everything you have noted down is likely to count as damage. In fact, some may fall under the category of ‘fair wear and tear’. While it is up for debate what may count as ‘fair’, rest assured that if you have used the property with care and consideration it’s unlikely that much of the general wear would have caused damage.
However, accidents do happen. It’s time to be honest with yourself about what is actually damaged or broken. Make a separate list about which aspects you consider to be damage. If the property manager does ask you to pay to replace or repair these items you can seek your own quotes to ensure that they are realistic.
3) Speak directly to your property manager
At this point you need to get in touch with your property manager about any of the damage. Some of it may be fixable. In fact, if your property manager suggests that you may need to pay replacement costs then you may want to keep in mind that a repair job is usually less costly and, under tenancy regulations, should be the first consideration.
For instance, stains on the carpet can usually be repaired – if the stain is so bad it cannot come out, the piece of carpet with the stain on can be cut out and replaced by a professional. This will be a far smaller outlay than the cost of re-carpeting a whole room.
Being honest with your property manager will also put them on side. If they come for the final inspection to find a number of items broken or damaged then you may find them less willing to negotiate a favourable outcome. Remember, if you attempt some of the repairs yourself and they are not up to standard, you may see yourself paying even more.
4) Remember your obligations as a tenant
It is a requirement under the Tenancy Act that you provide the correct notice to vacate, even towards the end of a fixed lease agreement. If you break the lease or fail to provide adequate notice then you will find yourself paying the costs as a result. This will usually come from your bond.
Similarly, you may have outstanding bills, such as water payments, or similar attached to the home. It is your obligation to pay your bills and close your accounts upon vacating the home.
5) Bring in the professionals
Now it’s time to bring in the professionals. One of the crucial parts of retaining your bond is ensuring you leave the property clean. Read your lease agreement carefully for what is specifically stated. Many lease agreements require professional steam cleaning of the carpets and even pest treatments if you have had pets.
Depending on your own personal abilities, it may also be worth hiring gardeners and even window cleaners to get the property back into shape.
6) Undertake other cleaning as necessary
Of course, much of the cleaning work can be done yourself. With a bit of elbow grease, some spare time and some cleaning products, you should be able to bring the property back up to scratch. Use any initial observations from assessing the checklist to determine the areas that may need more attention.
Remember to get into the areas you don’t clean as often. The dishwasher, if provided, and oven need to be clean. The top of doors and picture rails should also be free of dust. It can also be worth cleaning out the vents of air conditioners and heaters as these are also expected to be clean.
7) Properly vacate by the due date
While it’s common sense to be vacated by the agreed upon date, it’s often the case that many stay for a few days over their lease. This will incur extra rental costs.
Many tenants also believe they can leave things behind, such as rubbish or furniture that they no longer need, and it can come as a nasty surprise when the bill for cleaning up or for a removalist is taken from their bond. While you might think leaving that television or chest of drawers could benefit the next tenant, your landlord may disagree.
If you are keen to leave things behind or do need extra days, speak to your property manager as soon as possible. They will appreciate your honesty and can discuss with you the available options and costs.
8) Return all keys and household items
When you have vacated, you will be expected to provide all of the keys you were initially given and any other items (such as garage remote controls and doorbell functionalities) by an agreed upon time. Failure to do this may incur the cost of not only replacing those keys or items, but often replacing the locks. Missing keys may be a sign that you have kept one and the house may be seen as insecure.
If you have lost a key, be upfront with the landlord. Usually the replacement cost will be a small figure, however in some instances special keys are used and will cost more.
9) Attend the final inspection in person
When your landlord or property manager comes for the final inspection of the property, ensure that you attend. Bring a bucket and some cleaning products with you.
If you do find that there are things that need to be cleaned or damages that need to be discussed, particularly things you may have missed or not have thought about, you can try and resolve the issue straight away. This may be through doing some extra cleaning on the day, or it could be by discussing possible repairs and an outcome.
10) Understand the bond refund process
Lastly, know the process for the bond to be returned. Just as you filled out a rental bond form at the start, a Claim for Refund of Bond Money form or state-based equivalent should be filled out and given to the property manager once it is determined the total that should or should not be deducted from your bond.
You will need to include financial details for where the bond should be returned to and your contact details. Without these, getting your bond returned can be tricky.
If yourself and the property manager cannot, however, agree on the bond refund amount then you may be heading to mediation and to Tribunal. Ultimately, you will be asked to provide evidence that backs up your dispute and justifies why you should be entitled to the return of the bond.
Points to remember:
- Check your condition report
- Be honest about damage
- Speak directly to the property manager
- Understand your obligations
- Consider professional cleaning services
- Undertake other cleaning yourself
- Vacate by the due date
- Attend the final inspection yourself
- Understand how the bond refund process works