The chal­lenge: Maria Bekiaris

There are rea­son­ably sim­ple steps for tenants to fol­low

Money Magazine Australia - - CONTENTS - Maria Bekiaris

Leav­ing a rental prop­erty can put some money back in your wal­let. Sure, the money was yours al­ready but you haven’t been able to touch it since you signed your lease. Yes, I’m talk­ing about your rental bond.

A rental bond – which is usu­ally four weeks’ rent – is es­sen­tially a se­cu­rity de­posit to pro­tect the land­lord in the event of un­paid rent or dam­age to the prop­erty.

If the land­lord or agent be­lieves you owe them money, they are able to make a claim against your bond, ex­plains the NSW Of­fice of Fair Trad­ing web­site, which says the main rea­sons a claim may be lodged against your bond are if you still owe any rent or have un­paid wa­ter us­age bills; if you broke the lease early and have not paid the break fee or other com­pen­sa­tion payable; if you didn’t hand back all the copies of the

keys and the locks needed to be changed; or if you caused dam­age or did not leave the premises in a rea­son­ably clean state, com­pared with the orig­i­nal con­di­tion re­port, apart from “fair wear and tear”.

So how do you claim your bond? The process is fairly sim­i­lar in all states and ter­ri­to­ries but we will use NSW as an ex­am­ple. You can also check with the depart­ment of con­sumer af­fairs or rental author­ity in your state or ter­ri­tory.

The first step is for the land­lord or agent to con­duct a fi­nal in­spec­tion. It’s a good idea to agree to a time so that you’re there too. That way you can deal with any is­sues that may arise on the spot. If you both agree on the re­fund amount then the land­lord/ agent can fill in the rel­e­vant form, which you will also need to sign be­fore it is lodged. The NSW Of­fice of Fair Trad­ing warns you should never sign a blank form. Al­ways make sure the bond re­fund amounts are filled in. You may also be able to lodge a claim on­line if an on­line ac­count was set up when you paid the bond.

If you can’t agree about the amount or they are tak­ing too long, you can lodge a form your­self with­out their sig­na­ture on it or sub­mit an on­line claim if ap­pli­ca­ble. The agent or land­lord will be no­ti­fied and have 14 days to con­test or agree with your claim. If they agree they can sign the form and the money will be in your ac­count in a mat­ter of days. If they don’t they may dis­cuss the claim with you but if an agree­ment can’t be reached they can ap­ply to the NSW Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal to con­test your claim.

It may also work in re­verse – if the land­lord or agent lodges a claim to deduct some money, you will be no­ti­fied and have 14 days to con­test the claim. Try con­tact­ing the land­lord/agent first to see if you can come to an agree­ment. If not you should con­tact the tri­bunal within the 14 days, oth­er­wise the bond will be paid out as per the land­lord’s claim. Make sure you no­tify Fair Trad­ing that you are dis­put­ing the claim.

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