Renters have rights in bond disputes

Tenants and landlords don’t always see eye-to-eye over what constitutes “fair wear and tear” at the end of a tenancy, which may then lead to a disagreement over how the security bond is to be disbursed.

Bond disputes have been one of the major issues Consumer Protection has been handling since the rent moratorium ended in March this year, with new figures revealing we have conciliated 206 disputes so far this year – double the number of disputes recorded in the same period of 2020.

Given all bond money is required to be lodged with the Bond Administrator, tenants should know that landlords have no right to keep any amount paid as a security bond, unless agreed by the tenant or stipulated in a court order.

When it comes to cleaning and fixing damage, landlords are only able to charge a tenant for the actual costs incurred and are not allowed to charge for a pre-estimated cost.

When tenants and landlords can’t agree, the property condition report (PCR) is relied upon to determine what damage, if any, occurred during the tenancy. For instance, if a hole in the wall is noted at the end of the tenancy, but the damage wasn’t included in the PCR at the beginning, then the tenant may struggle to prove they were not responsible.

That’s why it’s in a tenant’s best interests to ensure the PCR is accurate at the start of the lease and for both parties to make sure the report is completed and signed. It is also recommended that tenants take photos of the property when they move in and include those photos with the PCR. A PCR should also be completed within 14 days of the end of a tenancy.

Consumer Protection invites complaints from any tenant in dispute with their landlord at the end of the tenancy where they have not received either an incoming or outgoing PCR, as well as instances where the bond has not been lodged with the Bond Administrator.

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