Homeowners and real estate agencies ask their tenants for a security deposit before signing a lease. The landlord or real estate agency must pay back the security deposit after the term of the lease ends unless there are significant damages to a property. Usually, the deposit amount a landlord asks is between four to eight week's rent.
The landlord must lodge the deposit as a bond with a local authority. However, what most landlords fail to realise is that the bond is essentially the tenant’s money. They need to pay it back in full unless they can demonstrate a reason why they need to make partial or full deductions. That does not mean the landlord or the real estate agent arbitrarily deduct money from the tenant’s bond.
What are a tenants responsibilities?
A rental property is still a tenant’s home, and they can go about living in the rented accommodation in an ordinary fashion. As long as they stick to that, there is no reason for a landlord to deduct money from their deposits.
The tenants need to keep the premises fairly clean and ensure they do not cause significant damage to the property. In other words, tenants need to return a property in the same condition that the landlords rented it to them. However, this does not include the wear and tear that occurs with time which is entirely the landlord’s responsibility.
How do you protect your deposit?
It's wise to fill out a detailed condition report of the property. Take a thorough look and inspect for cracks and smudges. Ensure the paint is fine and all the doors and windows, especially the glass ones, function accurately.
If you happen to come across something like a broken window, a lock or anything out of the ordinary, take a picture of that. This is the best way to have concrete evidence of the property’s condition. The camera on your phone will also help in keeping a detailed record of the dates and location of the pictures.
What do you do in case of a dispute?
A dispute can be defined as an event when the landlord and the tenant are on different pages. The landlord is adamant on deducting a portion of the deposit or in full. If the tenants feel the deduction is unjustified, then they can take up the matter with the local tribunals. For instance, the citizens of Victoria can turn to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Ensure that you provide them with a forwarding address. This ensures that the notices served to you do not keep coming to the disputed rented property.
You also need to keep the following information handy:
- The date you moved in and the kind of tenancy. It also makes up for a good idea to take a copy of your lease agreement along.
- Carry a receipt of the bond that you paid to the landlord.
- The notice you or the landlord gave to end the tenancy.
- Evidence (pictures) of the condition of the property. In fact, carrying your condition report can also be helpful.
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