What common reasons do landlords use to claim your bond?

By Anika Legal | Mon 26th Feb. '24

Renters often have trouble getting their bond back after their tenancy finishes. This article outlines some of the most common reasons landlords use to try and claim your bond (and what you can do about it!).

Reason 1 - The Property is damaged

Landlords can claim your bond if there’s damage to the property beyond reasonable wear and tear.

“Reasonable wear and tear” refers to the gradual deterioration of a rental property caused by normal, everyday use by its tenants.

Reasonable wear and tear can include things like:

  • Faded paint or wallpaper due to sunlight exposure
  • Minor scuffs or marks on walls from regular use
  • Carpet wearing down in high-traffic areas
  • Gradual ageing of appliances through normal use

For example, a renter is unlikely to be liable for scuffing damage to a carpet caused by normally walking on it over time.

Since renters are entitled to use the space for everyday living, landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the property in ‘good repair’. This means your landlord will likely not be successful if they try to claim your bond for reasonable wear and tear.

Damage that the landlord can claim from your bond includes:

  • Damage caused by negligence or abuse (e.g. water damage caused by overflow when you weren’t paying attention)
  • The renter intentionally damaging the property
  • Any other damage beyond normal wear and tear (e.g. from guests or pets)

For example, a renter would likely be liable for the reasonable cost of cleaning a carpet stained by by spilt red wine.

To protect yourself from any claims saying you damaged the property other than through fair wear and tear:

  • Fill out your Entry and Exit Condition Report (aka “Incoming” and “Outgoing” Condition Reports) to document the state of the property (including taking photos for evidence);
  • Document any damage to the property that was present before you moved in;
  • Notify your landlord or their agent as soon as you become aware of any damage at the Property; and
  • Keep a copy of all the relevant photos and documents about how any damage arose.

This evidence will help you defend against any future damage claims.

Reason 2 - The Property is unclean

Renters must return the property in the same condition as when they moved in (except for reasonable wear and tear, as explained above).

This means that the property should be reasonably clean when you move out - if not, the landlord can claim part or all of your bond to cover the cost of professional cleaning services.

Cleanliness may also refer to whether the Property is completely vacant when you leave. If you leave personal property behind - especially if it’s large, such as a couch - your landlord may claim the bond to cover the costs of removal and disposal.

To read more about this, see our article titled “How do I prepare for my end of lease clean to get my bond back?”.

Reason 3 - There is still unpaid rent

Your landlord can claim part or all of your bond if you fail to make your rent payments before vacating the property.

Sometimes, disagreements about whether rental arrears are owed arise from situations where the rental provider say you broke your lease.

To minimise the risk of this happening, make sure you follow your legal duties in terminating the rental agreement correctly.

For more information about this, you can have a look at the information on this website: Notice to vacate in rental properties - Consumer Affairs Victoria

If you’re not sure whether you’re giving notice of intention to vacate correctly, we recommend you get some legal advice for your specific situation.

Do you need more help?
Moving is already stressful enough. We don’t want you to go through the extra headache of your landlord withholding your bond!

If you've already left your Property and your landlord is trying to claim your bond, we may be able to help you.

Please feel free to reach out to Anika Legal for help. You can ask us for help with a Victorian bond dispute even if you're overseas by filling in our online form here.

We last updated this page in February 2024. Please remember that this is only legal information. If you're thinking about taking action, you should chat to a lawyer for advice about your situation first.

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