Avoid These 5 Things if You Want Your Rental Bond Returned

Avoid These 5 Things if You Want Your Rental Bond Returned
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Renting a home is a pretty major part of many people’s lives, right? It takes a considerable chunk of your cash each month, and finding the right space with a decent landlord can be a tricky process. But possibly the most stressful part of the whole saga is worrying about getting your rental bond back.

If you’re new to the term, a rental bond is a sum of money you pay the landlord or agency at the start of your agreement. It’s usually about four weeks’ rent worth, and it acts as a guarantee in the case of you not fulfilling the requirements of your lease.

While in most cases, you’re pretty unlikely to have an issue in attaining your bond back once your lease runs out there are some circumstances that’ll leave you with a hole in your pocket.

It’s worth noting that there are laws in place surrounding leases and bond agreements throughout Australia and you should familiarise yourself with your rights. But to help with the process, Greg Madigan, Head of Growth and Partner Success at Sorted Services has shared some examples of what could lose you your rental bond.

“While small marks and dents can sometimes be overlooked by rental providers and property managers, others can ultimately result in all or some of your bond,” he shared over email.

So it’s a good idea to keep these in mind the next time you plan to move.

These are the top 5 things to avoid when it comes to retaining your rental bond

Leaving the property in a giant mess

The general idea is that you’re meant to leave the home in the same condition as you found it in. That means you’ll need to give the property a solid scrub down before you leave.

“In order to successfully get your bond back, make sure your property is as spick and span as it can be. It may be a smart idea to hire a professional end of tenancy cleaning company, either the one recommended by your property manager or one you find via your own research,” Madigan said.

“By ensuring your rental property is clean and tidy when you move out, you will minimise any headaches caused from angry rental providers asking you to come back again to make further changes.”

Significant damage

While general wear and tear from regular life may not be considered a big deal, there are some kinds of damage that will obviously be seen as a problem.

“Did you accidentally puncture a big hole in the wall or break one of the rental provider’s fixtures? Unfortunately, this might mean you’ll have to say goodbye to a large sum of your bond,” Madigan explained.

A good way to navigate this problem is to let your landlord know of any considerable damage as it happens. This may result in less of an ugly interaction when it comes time to return the rental bond.

“In many cases, they might be able to help you get this fixed, which of course might be at your expense (often a lot less than the cost of your actual bond),” he continued.

“It’s also a good idea to double-check your condition report, which is often reviewed and altered prior to move-in.”

If you, like me, have often sat at home wondering if pulling paint off the wall with a 3M strip is considered significant damage, that is down to the landlord – and the level of damage.

LJ Hooker shared a pretty useful list of what’s generally considered reasonable wear and tear and it includes:

  • Faded curtains or frayed cords
  • Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet
  • Scuffed up wooden floors
  • Faded, chipped or cracked paint
  • Worn kitchen benchtop
  • Loose hinges or handles on doors or windows and worn sliding tracks
  • Cracks in the walls from movement
  • Water stain on carpet from rain through leaking roof or bad plumbing
  • Worn paint near light switches

It also shared a list of damage that tenants are generally liable for. Here’s what that list included:

  • Missing curtains or curtains torn by the tenant’s pet
  • Dog urine throughout the house
  • Stains or burn marks on the carpet
  • Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors
  • Unapproved or poor quality paint job
  • Burns or cuts in benchtop
  • Broken glass from one of the kids hitting a ball through the window
  • Holes in walls left by tenants removing picture hooks or shelves they had installed
  • Water stains or carpet caused by overflowing bath or indoor pot plants
  • Paint damage resulting from removing decorations stuck with Blu-Tac or sticky tape

You made alterations without permission

It sounds obvious, but you can’t knock down a wall in your rental without first asking your landlord or property manager for their consent.

Madigan explained that the reasons major alterations can cause issues for your bond, like the possibility of significant value changes or damage or “additional maintenance costs if the changes were not reversed upon the renter leaving”.

In saying that, however, Madigan did point out that “there are some non-permanent, reasonable alterations that rental providers can’t refuse permission for, including picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, fly-screens on doors and windows, or a simple vegetable or herb garden.”

You are in a rental arrears situation

This is a particularly tough situation and we certainly hope no one ever finds themselves in arrears, but it can happen, so it’s worth covering off.

Madigan explained that if a renter is late on paying rent or hasn’t paid rent at all “they are what’s called ‘in arrears’.”

“When this happens, a rental provider can make the decision to evict you immediately and withhold your bond as a result.

“If as a renter you are unable to pay your rent due to financial hardship, you should inform your property manager or rental provider ahead of time in order to work out a solution. If they can’t agree, rental providers do have the right to take formal action,” Madigan said.

Not returning keys or other security devices

You never want to lose your keys, but misplacing those babies in a rental situation is one of the least fun conundrums to find yourself in.

“Lost keys and security devices can cost rental providers hundreds of dollars, depending on the quantity and model,” Madigan said.

“While it may be the last thing on your move-out to-do list, it’s something that your property manager will require you to return. Do yourself a favour and keep both the keys and security devices in good condition, otherwise this is another reason that may cost you your bond.”

All in all, the general rule is do your best to keep the property in decent shape – report any major issues as early as you can and keep your keys close, and there’s a good chance you’ll get your rental bond back with no trouble at all.

And if something does go wrong, keep in mind that the landlord is only able to claim a “reasonable cost” from the bond to attend to any of the issues at hand. You can also read more at tenants.org.au if you’re interested.

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