The latest news for New Zealand Landlords and Tenants
Now that your tenancy is nearly at an end, its time to start thinking about your bond. Organising a bond refund is the first step after your final inspection, but it’s good to know what a landlord can take from your bond before you agree on the refund amount.
Below we quickly summarise what can be deducted from your bond so you know what to expect when your lease is over.
Firstly, what is a bond?
At the start of a tenancy, tenants pay a bond to the landlord. The bond can be any amount up to the value of 4 weeks’ rent and it acts as a security deposit for landlords.
The bond money is lodged and held by the government for the duration of your tenancy, until a bond refund is requested. Although you can request to have the full amount refunded, it is up to you and your landlord to agree on how much. If any of the below situations apply, you may see a deduction from your bond.
What can be taken out of my bond?
In the event that the tenancy ends and you still owe rent money, landlords can deduct this from the bond. Ideally, your landlord will have kept a clear record of rent payments and will know exactly how much you owe. But, it’s also important to have your own records so that you can be sure of the unpaid amount. These records will come in handy as evidence should the issue escalate to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Repairs and damages
If you cause damage to a property that is worse than fair wear and tear, it can come out of your bond. Fair wear and tear refers to damage that occurs due to ordinary day-to-day use of a property. A broken window is not fair wear and tear but a window that won’t open due to its aging wooden frame is.
Even if the damage is accidental, you can still be liable to pay for it.
If you leave your property in such a state that professional cleaning needs to be done, expect a bond deduction.
A couple of examples that could cost you include:
- leaving rubbish in the backyard or
- simply doing a careless job when it comes to the final clean.
As professional cleaners can cost near to $40 or more an hour, it’s definitely worth doing it once and doing it right. Follow the inspection list that your landlord gives you and attend to every task on the list. This should keep your bond safe from a professional cleaning deduction.
Replacing furniture and other furnishings
If you rented a furnished property, you obviously aren’t able to take any of these items when you leave. In the event that you do and your landlord notices (chances are, they will) then they can take this from your bond.
Your landlord can’t take what they want from your bond, they have to have sufficient reason first.
In some instances, the bond money is not allowed to cover costs (e.g. normal wear and tear). But in those situations we have outlined above, you can expect deductions.
Normal wear and tear is the sort of damage that occurs as a result of everyday life. This includes things like fading carpet or the odd mark or scratch on a wall.
As you are not responsible to cover the costs of pre-existing damage, it is always good to take photos during your move-in inspection. This makes it easier when you do the final inspection as you will know what damages were caused by you and what deductions you can expect because of this.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the line between wear and tear, and damage that is substantial enough to need to be repaired. As you are going through your final inspection, this is the sort of thing you’ll need to discuss with your landlord.
Make sure that you organise the bond refund as soon as possible after the end of the tenancy. Although you have 6 years until the bond becomes the property of the crown, it’s easier for everyone to get this organised as soon as possible.