Will I get my bond back?
Well, the short answer is yes…
So, you can relax.
When I meet people and I tell them that I work in property, it’s amusing how many people then want to ask me questions about getting their bond back.
I also often get panicked calls from friends or family asking for rental advice.
It usually goes something like, “I lived at the property for two years and I just moved out and the property manager says I have to pay to repaint some walls and they are keeping my bond. Can they do that?”
There seems to be so much anxiety around this process that should really be quite straightforward.
We get it. Moving is stressful and expensive!
You are no doubt counting on your bond money.
Knowing you can’t get access to it unless a property manager says so can be pretty frustrating.
Then comes the final inspection, your property manager contacts you to say something has not been cleaned well enough or there are some other issues and boom!
We have a problem.
It is at this point that the tenant and property manager relationships can sadly break down.
And during my career, boy; have I seen some break down badly!
Names called, property managers in tears, nasty google reviews and even threats of physical violence.
It is such a shame because it really does not need to be this way.
Nobody likes to have bad experiences, so maybe if everyone was a bit clearer on the process then the vacate could run a bit smoother.
But if not, here are my tips for getting your bond back.
Know the Process
At the start of your tenancy, your property manager will give you a property condition report. This detailed document will contain photos and comments clearly outlining the condition of the property at the start of your tenancy, you then have seven days to make any amendments to the report, sign off on it and return it to your property manager. If you didn’t receive a property condition report upon starting your lease, advise your property manager immediately and remember if you don’t return an amended signed report then the property manager will do your final inspection off their original report. During the final inspection, your property manager will then take this document to the property to compare condition and make sure everything is the same.
If you have left the property in the same condition, then you have nothing to worry about.
If you can’t find or have misplaced your copy of the condition report then ask for one from your property manager prior to vacating so you can check everything a head of time.
If everything is in order and there are no other issues (unpaid rent etc) then you will receive an electronic bond disposal form and your bond money will be back in your bank account in a few days…. Simple.
You can choose to be present for the final inspection, sometimes doing the inspection with your property manager makes the process a lot quicker as if there are any issues, they can be identified and seen by both parties whilst at the property, so there is less room for argument. Let your property manager know if you would like to be at the final inspection ahead of time so they can book it in for you. Otherwise, if during the final inspection your property manager notes any damage, or some extra cleaning is required then they will contact you to let you know. They also need to provide you copy of the final inspection.
If that happens…
Whether you have a good relationship with your property manager or not, they are people too. And just like you, it is probably correct to assume that they don’t enjoy conflict or unpleasant situations just the same.
When I was a property manager it always made me nervous to have to discuss bond disputes.
The most important thing to know is that no money can be taken from your bond without your agreement.
If any extra cleaning is needed you may have the option to go back to do it yourself or your property manager will have to arrange this to be rectified.
If there is any damage to the property, your property manager will be asking you to compensate the landlord to have the damage repaired entirely or contribute to the repair.
Bond disputes are a negotiation, nothing more.
Another important fact to consider is that moving out of a property can take longer than you think. Allow yourself plenty of time to ensure the property is clean, undamaged, gardens done etc. and it is being returned as per the property condition report because when you return your keys you are effectively ending your possession of the property, so the responsibility is on the tenant to ensure everything is as it should be upon the key return. The property manager is not obligated to allow you to return to attend to any discrepancies and if there is a quick tenancy turn over this courtesy may not be feasible.
What if you think the property manager is wrong (AKA the property was cleaner when I moved in)
At the start of the tenancy, you were given the opportunity to make your own comments on the condition report. You may have taken your own photos for reference if there were some issues when you moved in. If that is the case, then provide that evidence to your property manager and they will need to remove that from their claim.
Your property manager can only ask for extra cleaning or repairs for areas that are different from how they are on the ingoing condition report.
If you and your property manager cannot reach an agreement and you need to go to mediation, then both parties will need evidence of the properties condition to support your claim. Worst case scenario is the matter has to be heard at court, this is a long process with rarely either party getting 100% of what they expect.
If your dog chewed off a couple of door handles or you made a hole in the wall while moving out your bed frame, then it stands to reason that you should pay for that right?
Let your property manager know so the issues can be rectified.
Saying nothing and hoping your property manager doesn’t notice will only prolong the process.
Don’t take it personally
I often hear tenants say things like “I was always a good tenant and paid my rent on time so why is my property manager giving me a hard time about some weeds”
I can assure you none of them are sitting up at night thinking of ways to make your life difficult.
Property managers have a lot of things to do! They want any bonds to be finalised so they can move onto their next task.
Remember property managers are the conduit between the tenant and landlord and at the end of the day they obligated to act as per their landlords’ instructions providing, they are in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act. It is their job and responsibility to make sure you return the property as per the property condition report.
Know your rights
A rental bond can only be used as compensation for unpaid rent or invoices, cleaning, and rubbish removal or to repair damage.
Your landlord must allow for fair wear and tear in their rental property.
This means damage that is caused through the ordinary day-to-day use of a property by a tenant (e.g. carpet gets worn from people walking on it)
A rental bond is not a landlord maintenance fund, and a good property manager will never treat it as such.
As a tenant you have rights, you should never sign anything under pressure and if you are unsure of anything there are places you can go for assistance.
Best of luck!!
Written by Ben Broadley, Business Development Manager at Paragon Property