Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants Regarding Bond Money

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Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants Regarding Bond Money

By : angila
With the growing culture of taking property on lease, the number of renters in Australia is increasing day by day. But the tenants, as well as landlords, are oblivious to their rights and responsibilities regarding bond money. There are several critical details in the tenancy agreement which most people don’t read and hence get caught in unfavourable conditions with the property agents. Latest researches show that 37 percent of renters around Australia face high pressures due to high rents, shortage of properties and possibility of being regularly displaced. Most people are often ignorant of their right and responsibilities which lead to unnecessary disputes between tenants and landowners. Fear of possible retaliation, given the shortage of affordable properties, prevents tenants from imposing their rights, hence it is imperative to have full information regarding tenancy. It is vital that you get aware of your rights and responsibilities if you are renting a property so that the property agent cannot take advantage. At the same time, you must follow all the rules and responsibilities as a tenant and hire professionals for the end of lease cleaning in Melbourne, to avoid any potential problems. A landlord or a tenant must read Consumer Affairs Victoria’s booklet: Renting a Home- a guide for landlords and tenant. All the rules for collection, management and refund of rental bonds in Victoria has been compiled in this booklet. Here are some of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord that you might not be aware of:

What is a Rental Bond?

Bonds are a form of insurance for property owners to ensure the safety of their property and to keep tenants in line so that they can recover any damages or non-payments. A rental bond is also addressed as Security Deposit, Pet Bond, Linen Deposit or Key/Security Card. A rental bond is paid at the beginning of the tenancy. The bond must be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA), to be held until the end of the lease. Once RTBA receives the bond from the landlord, they send a receipt to the tenant. Residential Tenancies Act 1997 sets out the rights and responsibilities of tenants in Victoria. The government is extremely strict about the renting rules in Melbourne and breaching of these rules and regulations could also result in eviction of tenants.

The Beginning of the Tenancy

A tenant should be given the following documents while leasing a residential property In Victoria:
  • Copy of tenancy agreement
  • An entry condition report
  • A bond lodgement form
  • Renting a home- Consumer Affairs Victoria Booklet All the tenants must read these documents before signing the contract, to get a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Once the tenant moves to the property, after examining it properly, he will have to complete a Condition Report. The condition of the property at the time of leasing is noted in this Entry Condition Report. Similarly, an Exit Condition Report is an essential part of the bond refund process that should be completed by the tenant and landlord at the end of the tenancy.

If your Rent is Overdue

If the tenant is not able to pay the rent for more than 14 days, the landlord has the right to issue a notice to vacate the property. A tenant can only be evicted from a property by an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). In this case, the tenant can make a repayment plan or should pay the outstanding amount to stop VCAT from sending him the eviction order.

In Case of a Rental Increase

The rent increase is common all-around Melbourne, but the tenants don’t have to agree to the hike. However, the landlord must give a written 60 days’ notice to the tenant in advance. Victoria Legal Aid says there are two situations where you can discard a rental increase:
  • If the hike is too much in comparison with other comparable local rental properties.
  • If the owner has reduced or withdrawn any services or facilities Also, a property agent cannot increase the rent during a fixed-term lease agreement unless it’s stated explicitly in the contract. Similarly, rent cannot be increased twice within every six months.

Right to Privacy

The tenant has the right to enjoy privacy in his leased property for the duration of the tenancy agreement. The landlord cannot enter the property without informing the tenant, and he must give him a written notice along with the reason for entry. The tenant can also turn down landlord’s entry to the property, in a case; where the landlord does not provide the notice within the set time frame.

Right to Repairs

The tenant has the right to report if any repair work is required on the property. The landlord is then responsible for taking action to fix the damage. He is given a limited amount of time to arrange for it. However, the time limit depends on how urgent the repair is. If the landlord fails to carry out the work within 14 days, the tenant has the right to contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for assistance. In case, the damage is done by the tenant himself then it must be reported to the landlord, and the tenant will have to pay for the repair.
There are two types of Repairs:
1. Urgent repairs
Urgent repair includes issues such as electricity, sewer, a blocked lavatory system, water services, gas leaks etc Applications for urgent work must be attended to within two days, However, If the owner doesn’t fix these issues the tenant can get them fixed and keep the receipt of the bill to get the money refunded from the landlord. You will have to send him a ‘Notice to landlord of rented premises’ which must be paid within 14 days to you.
2. Non-urgent repairs
In case of non-urgent maintenance, the property owner has 14 days to arrange for it. Tenant has the right to ask Consumer Affairs Victoria to check the property if the landlord fails to repair even after 14 days of escalating it. However, if the repair work is not initiated by the landlord, even after this, tenant can go to Victoria civil and administrative tribunal and ask them to order the landlord to repair.
Rules for keeping Pets
There are no particular rules regarding pets in the tenancy agreement while leasing property in Victoria. However, a landlord is free to decide whether he wants the tenant to keep pets or not. To avoid any clash, the tenant should discuss with the landlord about keeping pets before signing the tenancy agreement.
Getting back your Bond Money
The tenant is obligated to get full bond money back in case he has paid all the rent and has not breached the tenancy agreement. However, the landlord or the property owner can claim the bond for some reasons such as:
  • Damage caused to the property by the tenant
  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid bills of tenant
  • Any loss of landlord’s goods
  • If you return the property in an unclean condition, he will charge you for the cleaning expenses.
  • If the tenant abandons the property without information
Also, the landlord cannot claim the bond in case of fair wear and tear of the property. This may include things like carpets wearing out etc.
Disagreements about bond refunds
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is quite sensitive towards the rules of bond refunds, and check thoroughly who is at fault in case of disagreements. If there is any dispute between the landlord and the tenant regarding the refund of the bond money, both have the right to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Any applications to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for the refund of the bond are for free. A landlord can make a claim within ten business days for the bond. The tribunal has the authority to stretch this time limit on behalf of the landlord but being the tenant; you can raise your objection to this.
Both the tenant and the landlord must be aware of their respective rights and responsibilities to avoid discrepancies in future. Moreover, if you are looking to rent a property in or around Melbourne or already living in a leased property, having the necessary information about tenancy will make you feel relaxed and help you in not stressing about your bond money. However, if you get caught in a dispute and facing problems in getting the refund of your bond money, then you can contact Bond Cleaning in Melbourne. They have expert cleaners who are not only specialised at the end of lease cleaning but also will assist you in getting your bond money back.