You're leaving your rented apartment for pastures anew. As far as you're concerned, aside from a little natural wear and tear, the flat is looking pretty much as you found it. If this is indeed the case, just how easy is it to get your rental bond back? Gillian Bullock investigates.
All landlords require a rental bond when you move into a property and, with the exception of Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the money is held by an independent government-owned body such as the Rental Bond Board in NSW.
The amount you pay varies. Generally for an unfurnished property it's the equivalent of four weeks rent and for a furnished place six weeks although this can be longer in a more expensive property.
In an ideal world and if you have looked after the property you should get all or most of this bond back.
But unless you are proactive, it's possible that you may end up with nothing.
According to Nick Eastman, a solicitor with the NSW Tenants Union, you should always make sure you finalise your bond on the day you finalise your tenancy.
In order to do this, you need to sign a claim-for-refund form. And you should do it ideally at the same time you hand over your keys and terminate the tenancy.
Eastman believes that tenants often miss out on their bond because the landlord or managing agent submits the form to the bond board without seeking the tenant's signature. On receipt of this form, the board then writes to the tenant at the last known address which of course, tends to be the exited residence. You then have a limited period to respond. If you don't, then the money will be refunded to the landlord and you'll miss out. Clearly there is a good argument for making sure you have your mail forwarded.
"It's a race," says Eastman. "You have to be proactive in claiming your bond rather than wait for the agent to advise you. In NSW, for instance, you only have 14 days in which to respond."
Figures released from the NSW Office of Fair trading showed that of 271,000 bonds returned in the 2003-04 financial year, 43 percent were paid back in full to the tenant, 13 percent were returned in full to the landlord/managing agent and 44 percent were split between the two parties.
The main reasons for the bond not being returned in full to the tenant included loss of rent, damage or serious cleaning required.
There are systems in place to ensure your money is returned. The key is to be proactive to make sure you get what is rightfully yours.