If you ever live in a rental property, you are likely going to spend some time dealing with rental bonds. So, what happens at the end of a tenancy when you need to get your bond returned?

It might be easy to think that the most important moment for getting your bond back is at the end of your lease, but it’s not. The most critical time is actually when you first move in to the property. Hopefully, you and the leasing agent or landlord will have completed a condition report, noting damage and defects to the property. It is your responsibility to note any additional damages or defects that the property agent has not recorded in the condition report. Take photos and email them to yourself / the agent so that there is a clear timestamp on when this damage was reported.

If you’re a tenant, you have the option to lodge your bond directly with NSW Fair Trading through the Rental Bonds Online (RBO) service. Your landlord or agent is required by law to offer you the RBO service before accepting your bond.

To use the RBO service, the landlord or agent must first send you an email inviting you to open your own RBO account. Once you’ve set up your account, you can pay your bond using a credit card or BPAY.

At the end of your tenancy the agent or landlord will inspect the property, and your bond refund will be determined. If you’re both in agreement over the amount, you can submit a claim using your Rental Bonds Online (RBO) account. The landlord/agent will be emailed a Notice of Claim, and you’ll receive your refund within 2 working days of their agreeing to the claim.

If you and the landlord/agent are not in agreement over the refund amount:

you can still submit your claim using RBO. The landlord/agent then has 14 days to apply for a hearing with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to contest the claim. If they don’t do so within the 14 days, the refund amount you claimed will be paid to you.
the landlord/agent can submit a claim, and you will be emailed a Notice of Claim.

You can then either:

  • agree to the amount
  • within 14 days, inform Fair Trading that you’ve applied to NCAT for a hearing to dispute the amount, or
  • take no action, and after 14 days the bond will be paid out as per the landlord’s claim.

The landlord/agent can claim costs against your bond, such as:

  • repairs, if the premises has been damaged (other than ‘fair wear and tear’)
  • cleaning, if you’ve left any part of the premises not reasonably clean
  • the replacement of locks or security devices
  • unpaid rent
  • other charges you may owe under the tenancy.

If you are not able to use the RBO service, you can claim your bond back via the following form:

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/367749/Claim-for-Bond-Refund-form.pdf

When applying to get your bond back, it is helpful to know what is considered ‘fair wear and tear’, and what is considered ‘damage’. You can find further information about this at the following sites:

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/renting/ending-a-tenancy
https://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-03-bond

The SRC casework service can offer advice and support for tenancy matters. Email help@src.usyd.edu.au or call 9660 5222 to book an appointment with a caseworker.