Have you ever moved out of a rental, only to find that your landlord or real estate has refused to give your bond back? This can be frustrating, especially if you feel like you’ve done everything you could to clean the apartment before leaving. I’ve been caught, and $1200 was taken out of my bond, which I thought was very unfair. Here’s our advice to ensure you don’t get caught out like I did:
WHERE DID I GO WRONG?
I didn’t take photos at the time of the initial inspection and I wasn’t there at the time of the final inspection. When I moved in some of the cords for a few of the blinds were broken yet I got charged $500 for replacing all of the cords and other minor repairs to the blinds. I was also charged $700 for cleaning the bathrooms because the tiles weren’t clean enough. The tiles were super clean but I recall the grout looked slightly stained in the shower.
BEWARE: it's easy for Real Estate agents to get money from your bond.
DID I GET RIPPED OFF?
I certainly feel like I got ripped off. I was furious. I had a great relationship with the real estate agent and I was really upset that they hadn’t rung to tell me they were planning to take money out of my bond. What upset me most is I thought they had a legal obligation to let me fix the issues before they got a third party involved (cleaners and blind company) and pay for it out of my bond. I was wrong.
The law in every state is a little different, but here’s where I went wrong:
- My notes in the pre-inspection were too general and I missed little things like broken cords on the blinds
- I didn’t take any photos when I moved in.
- I wasn’t there during the final inspection and I didn’t take photos before I moved out.
YOUR RIGHTS AND WHAT REAL ESTATE AGENTS CAN LEGALLY GET AWAY WITH
The law in each state generally says that the tenant must leave the property in the state which they entered it, allowing for reasonable wear and tear. Typically, a tenant can’t be required to have carpets or the premises professionally cleaned unless there have been pets in the house.
What surprised me is that after the inspection, if the landlord decides that cleaning or other work is required, they can bring in a third party to clean the premises or fix the blinds without first notifying the tenant. If you try to argue this cost after the fact it required an application to the Rental Bond Board in your state where you need evidence to make your case. This is where I got caught and it cost me.
BE AT THE FINAL INSPECTION
The top tip from NSW Fair Trading is to make sure you are at the final inspection. This is when the landlord or real estate will go over the property to find any potential damage or things that need cleaning. If you’re there, and they raise something minor, you may be able to fix it on the spot, or arrange for it to be cleaned or fixed.
In each state the landlord is required by law to give the tenant reasonable notice as to the time of the final inspection. I should have been at the final inspection and discussed the concerns with landlord. I could have re-cleaned the grout in the shower and installed new cords for the blinds that day, sent the landlord photos and it would have all be fine. The apartment was so clean and well looked after that I just didn’t see this coming!
The one piece of advice I’ve got for any tenant moving out is to be at the final inspection and take a bucket with some cleaning products. Most small issues can probably be sorted out there and then. If it’s more involved, work it through with the landlord and if means paying for some repairs try to negotiate the value of the work and sign off on the deduction. If you don’t, you’re likely to get stung for a lot more money than you should be contributing
Keep in mind that fair wear and tear is not your responsibility, but negligent damage is. Here’s a summary from the NSW Department of Fair Trading covering what tenants are and aren’t liable for.
|Fair wear and tear – you are not liable||Damage – you are liable|
|Faded curtains or frayed cords||Missing curtains or torn by the tenant's cat|
|Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet||Stains or burn marks on the carpet|
|Scuffed up wooden floors||Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors|
|Faded, chipped or cracked paint||Unapproved paint job|
|Worn kitchen benchtop||Burns or cuts in bench top|
|Loose hinges or handles on doors or windows and worn sliding tracks||Broken glass from one of your children hitting a ball through the window|
|Cracks in the walls from movement||Holes in walls left by tenant removing picture hooks or shelves they had installed|
|Water stain on carpet from rain through leaking roof or bad plumbing||Water stain on carpet caused by overflowing bath or indoor pot plants|
If you need to get your carpet cleaned, contact the experts at Electrodry.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Sign up for email promotins, tips and special offers.