A bond is an amount of money which you pay to your landlord at the start of your tenancy. It can be any amount up to the value of 4 weeks’ rent, and it acts as a security deposit for your landlord. This money will be held by the government for the duration of your tenancy, and it will be refunded at the end of your tenancy – depending on the circumstances.
At the end of the tenancy, once you’ve applied to have your bond refunded, you’ll need to sort out with your landlord what is going to be taken from it.
Here’s a really quick overview of what costs can be taken from your bond.
In the event that the tenancy ends and you still owe your landlord rent money, then your landlord can take this from your bond. In an ideal world, your landlord will have done a good job of keeping track of when you paid rent and will know exactly how much you owe. It’s important that you also keep a record of this so that in the event that your landlord claims you owe more than you actually do, you’re able to provide evidence that they are wrong.
Repairs and/or cleaning
If you leave your property in such a state that repairs or professional cleaning needs be done, then your landlord can take the cost of this from your bond. This will only happen if you have caused more damage to your property than the normal wear and tear of everyday life. Likewise, if you kept on top of cleaning your property during your tenancy, and gave it a thorough clean before moving out, then your landlord can’t expect you to cover the cost of professional cleaning as well.
Replacing furniture and other furnishings
If you rented a furnished property, then obviously you cannot take anything you don’t own from the property when you leave. In the event that your landlord finds that, after you’ve moved out, they’re missing furniture or any other furnishings from your property, then they can take this from your bond.
Your landlord is not allowed to just take whatever they want from your bond, they have to have sufficient reason first. And, in some instances, the bond money is not allowed to cover costs (e.g. with normal wear and tear). 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.
You’re also not responsible for any pre-existing damage, and although ideally any sorts of pre-existing issues would be fixed long before you move out, this is why it’s important that you have some sort of evidence (e.g. photos) – to prove that the issues were there before you moved in.
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.