What Can Be Deducted From My Rental Bond?

Knowing your rights as a renter at the end of a lease can be confusing, particularly if there are issues or conflicts with getting your rental bond back. Moving house is hard enough without a landlord created unwanted financial frustrations so it’s essential to know your legal tenancy rights.

Always remember that the bond is the tenant’s money and the default outcome is that it is refunded in full to the tenant. If deductions are made, the real estate agent or landlord must demonstrate why. Never allow arbitrary deductions from your bond. Below we’ll look at reasons why deductions can legitimately be made from your bond.

When Can Agents or Landlords Claim Some or All of the Bond?

A bond exists as a landlord’s security in case a tenant causes damage or fails to pay rent. A landlord or real estate agent can only recover an appropriate portion of the bond at the end of a tenancy if:

  • the tenant has left and owes rent
  • the tenant or a resident or visitor has damaged the property
  • the tenant or resident has abandoned the property
  • the tenant or resident has left unpaid bills
  • the tenant or resident has left the property with cleaning or repair expenses that exceed ‘reasonable wear and tear’.

The last point is usually where disputes arise. It’s difficult for the law to provide an exact definition of what constitutes ‘reasonably clean’ or ‘fair wear and tear’ in every potential situation. Factors such as the length of the tenancy, the age of the property and the original condition of the property at the start of the tenancy all play a part in this consideration.

What Tenants Are Not Liable For

Tenants and residents cannot be held responsible for fair wear and tear, which in some cases is easier to determine. For example, carpet deterioration in high traffic areas such as hallways, sun fading of curtains and minor motor oil stains on concrete driveways can certainly occur in the course of fair use.

On the other hand, a motor oil stain or a red wine stain on the carpet could hardly constitute fair wear and tear, nor would major scratches and scuff marks on walls. Other things that are not the tenant’s responsibility includes:

  • Removing asbestos
  • Unblocking pipes blocked by tree roots
  • Replacing carpet older than 10 years
  • Repainting after 10 years
  • Mowing the lawn after you have already moved out and returned the keys.

The tenant and landlord must agree on matters such as what is fair wear and tear and what constitutes damage or maintenance that justifies a deduction from the rental bond.

What to Do If There is a Dispute

If you and your agent or landlord cannot agree on the division of the bond in Victoria, you can apply to VCAT (Residential Tenancies List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal). A member will consider the case and make a decision on how the bond will be divided.

The best evidence you can have is visual evidence, either photos or videos. Take time to record every room and the outside when you move into the property for the first time. Make sure you take note (close up photos) of any existing damage of the property so it cannot be blamed on you later.

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