Rental Bond - What is a Rental Bond and How do I Get it Back?
Renting a home might seem like the more economic choice, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay more upfront costs when renting a home in Australia. One of the biggest upfront costs to renting a home is your rental bond which you need to pay before moving into your new home. Depending on which state you live in, your rental bond might be several weeks of rent, and if you’re not careful you might not get that money back. To find out more about rental bonds, and what you can do to get your rental bond back, keep reading below.
What is a rental bond?
A rental bond is a security deposit, paid by the tenant to their landlord at the start of a lease, which is meant to be returned at the end of the tenancy agreement when the tenant moves out. A rental bond gives your landlord or property manager some financial security during your tenancy, in the event that you skip paying rent, cause damage to the property, or otherwise cause your landlord to need to pay out of pocket for an outstanding debt.
Rental bonds are protected by your state or territory’s residential bond authority. When you sign your residential tenancy agreement, you and your landlord or property manager will also sign bond lodgement papers, which specify the amount of bond being paid. The bond and signed papers are then submitted to your state or territory’s residential bond authority to ensure it’s protected until the end of your tenancy.
How much is my rental bond?
The amount of bond you will need to pay at the start of your tenancy differs by state, and how much rent you pay. In most cases, the maximum rental bond you will be required to pay is a maximum of four weeks’ rent. However, if your weekly rent is above a certain amount, in some states the total amount of rental bond becomes negotiable between the property manager/landlord and you (the tenant).
|State||Rent bond amount|
|NSW||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent|
|ACT||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent|
|VIC||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $350. If rent is more than $350 (short-term lease) or $760 (long-term lease) this can be more than four weeks and should be negotiated.|
|QLD||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $700. If rent is more than $700, there is no maximum amount and should be negotiated.|
|SA||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $250. Up to 6 weeks if weekly rent is more than $250.|
|WA||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent unless weekly rent is $1,200 or higher, in which case the bond is negotiated.|
|TAS||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent|
|NT||Maximum 4 weeks’ rent|
How to get my rental bond back
Rental bonds can be several hundred, or even thousands, of dollars and while we pay it upfront at the start of our tenancy, we want to get it back at the end of it. There are some ways to ensure you get your rental bond back, and what to do if you and your landlord have a dispute over your rental bond refund.
What can I do to make sure I get my rental bond back?
Your best bet to getting your full rental bond back is to keep the property clean, and well maintained, from the start to the end of your tenancy. At the beginning of your tenancy, you will receive a Property Condition Report, outlining your new home’s condition. It’s always a good idea to take that report and inspect your property when you move in, taking photos and noting any additional damage or issue that isn’t listed in the report. This will help with any rental bond disputes later on down the road. During your tenancy, keep your home in good condition and report any new issues to the landlord immediately if they occur.
In addition, at the end of your rental agreement:
Ensure the property is in good condition, compared to the Property Condition Report filed at the start of your tenancy. Anything outside of reasonable wear and tear might be charged against you and cause you to lose some, or all, of your rental bond. This can include any types of damage to the property, building, or furnishings left in the apartment.
Check that you have no outstanding debt owed to the property manager. This includes any unpaid rent, or utility bills such as water. Legally, you cannot use your rental bond to pay your final rent, and to do so could result in not getting any of the bond back.
If you’re breaking your lease early, you will need to pay any break fees or other compensation, which cannot be covered by the rental bond. You will need to pay that separately, and then get the rental bond back.
Give back all copies of the keys. If you don’t hand back every copy, the landlord or property manager will need to change the locks which will come out of your rental bond.
What counts as reasonable wear and tear?
Reasonable, or fair wear and tear, vary widely depending on the state or territory you live in. According to the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority, fair wear and tear can be defined as:
Normal use and ageing may affect the condition of a rental property over time. At the end of a tenancy the tenant must return the property to the same condition it was in at the start of the tenancy.
Fair wear and tear basically means the things that normal, everyday use of a living space, might cause to deteriorate. This is different from real, and excessive, damage. The difference between fair wear and tear or damage can be seen below with a few examples:
|Wear and tear||Damage|
How to apply for my rental bond refund
Since your rental bond was placed in a trust, and protected by your state or territory’s residential bond authority, you will need to go through some bureaucratic channels in order to get it back. If you and your property manager or landlord are in agreement on the return of your rental bond, it’s usually your landlord that will submit the refund claim. Make sure to check your state or territory’s specific laws when it comes to bond rental refunds, how long the refund process will take, and what payment method your refund will be transferred to you.
New South Wales: You can apply for the refund of the rental bond directly online with Services New South Wales if you have an RBO account. If you don’t have an RBO Account you can claim a refund with their Rental Bond Refund Claim PDF.
Victoria: Renters can claim their rental bond back through the RTBA website.
South Australia: You can lodge a rental bond refund request either online through your RBO account (which both the tenant and landlord must have) or by submitting a bond refund form PDF.
Western Australia: If you’re renting from a private landlord, you will need to sign a Joint Application for Disposal of Security Bond form with your landlord and submit it to the Bond Administrator by post, email, or in person. If you’re renting from a property manager, your bond refund will need to be requested through BondsOnline by the property manager.
Tasmania: You can manage your rental bond refund through MyBond with the Consumer, Building, and Occupational Services Office. If your landlord or property manager does not begin the rental bond refund process within three working days.
Northern Territory: Your landlord must return your rental bond back within seven business days of you leaving the premises.
Rental bond disputes: What to do if your landlord won’t return your bond
If you and your landlord/property manager don’t agree on refunding your rental bond, your landlord will need to make a claim. Depending on your state or territory’s laws regarding rental bonds, your landlord will have anywhere from 3 days to two weeks to submit a claim against you.
A landlord or property manager can only submit a claim against you if there is outstanding debt, damage or missing items, or cleaning that needs to be done once you move out. If you agree with this claim, you can sign off on it and either get some or none of your refund back.
If you disagree with your landlord’s claim, you will need to act quickly, or else your landlord's claim will get filed and the refund processed accordingly.
Contact your landlord and try to negotiate an agreement. If you agree, fill out and sign a new Rental Bond Refund form to get the agreed-upon amount refunded.
If you cannot come to a new agreement, apply to your state or territory’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a hearing request.
If you and your landlord or property manager disagree on the refund claim, you can (and should) ask for an itemised statement with your landlord’s claims including quotes, accounts, receipts, bills, or any additional documents or evidence they might have to support their claim. If you have your copy of the Property Condition Report, use this as well to dispute the claim.