Renting a property in Melbourne can be an exciting and convenient choice for many individuals and families. However, it’s essential to understand the responsibilities that come with being a renter and ensuring that you take proper care to secure your bond. In Victoria, the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) holds the bond money until the end of the rental agreement, and the renter’s money is returned if there is no damage to the property. In this article, we will discuss essential tips for Melbourne renters to help you maintain a good relationship with your landlord and increase your chances of getting your bond back in full. So, let’s dive in!
Start Now Thinking About Your Bond
Begin thinking about retaining your bond from the minute you walk into your new home. Don’t let it get away from you and create big headaches when it’s time to move out. Being a good renter begins now, and if you keep the following tips in mind, you’ll be in no doubt of receiving your bond back in full, along with a glowing reference from your property manager.
Understand Your Lease Agreement
Your lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. It’s crucial to read and understand all the terms and conditions before signing. Pay close attention to clauses related to the bond, repairs, maintenance, and end-of-lease requirements. Familiarise yourself with the rules, so you can adhere to them throughout your tenancy. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your landlord or property manager.
Document the Property’s Condition
When you first move into the rental, it’s important to thoroughly document its condition. The agent will complete a condition report to which you can add your comments and photos. You then sign the report and return it to the agent within 5 business days. This documentation serves as evidence and protects you from being held responsible for pre-existing damage when it’s time to move out.
Rectify Any Damage
One of the most common reasons tenants do not receive their money back in full is because of damage to the property. It is essential to properly repair any damage before vacating. If you leave any damage behind or if the repairs were poorly completed, the cost to repair or re-do the repairs will be deducted from your bond. Often, the best option is to ask the managing agent to arrange the maintenance for you with tradespeople they know and trust.
Report Maintenance Issues Promptly
Promptly reporting any maintenance issues to your landlord or property manager is vital. If you notice a leaky tap, a broken window, or any other problem, inform the relevant party as soon as possible. Timely reporting can prevent further damage and demonstrate your responsible behaviour as a tenant. Keep a record of your communication, including dates, times, and any responses received.
Keep the Property Clean and Tidy
Maintaining cleanliness and tidiness in your rental property is not only important for your own comfort but also for your bond. Regularly clean the floors, walls, kitchen, and bathrooms to keep the everything in good condition. Use appropriate cleaning products and methods for different surfaces. Avoid excessive wear and tear by using doormats, avoiding dragging furniture, and be cautious when moving heavy objects. Remember, a clean and well-maintained property reflects positively on you as a tenant.
Remove All Items from Storage Cages
If you have used a storage cage during your tenancy, it is essential to remove all your items from it and take off any padlocks that the rental provider didn’t provide. Leaving items in the storage cage can result in a deduction from your bond.
Practise Responsible Pet Ownership
If you have pets, it’s essential to be a responsible pet owner and follow any pet-related guidelines outlined in your lease agreement. Clean up after your pets both inside and outside the property to maintain cleanliness and prevent odours. Ensure that your pets do not cause damage to the property, such as scratching doors or chewing on furniture. Be mindful of noise and disturbances to your neighbours caused by your pets.
Pay Rent on Time
Paying your rent on time is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with your landlord and ensuring a smooth tenancy. Late rent payments can strain your relationship and may lead to complications when it’s time to move out. Make it a priority to pay your rent by the due date each month. Consider setting reminders or automating your payments to avoid any delays or forgetfulness.
Communicate Effectively with Your Landlord or Property Manager
Open and effective communication with your landlord or property manager is key to resolving any concerns or issues that may arise during your tenancy. If you have questions, need repairs, or encounter any difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out. Addressing problems promptly can prevent them from escalating and impacting your bond.
Conduct a Thorough Final Inspection
As your lease comes to an end, schedule a final inspection with your landlord or property manager. Before this inspection, thoroughly clean the property and address any repairs or damages that may have occurred during your tenancy. Compare the condition of the property to your initial documentation and note any discrepancies. Taking these steps will give you an opportunity to rectify any issues and maximise your chances of receiving your bond in full.
Familiarise Yourself with the Residential Tenancies Act
The Residential Tenancies Act is a legislation that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants in Victoria. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with this act to understand your rights and responsibilities fully. The act provides guidelines on matters such as bond lodgement, rent increases, repairs, and dispute resolution. Being aware of the regulations can help you navigate any disputes or issues that may arise during your tenancy.
Avoid Making Unauthorised Alterations
Making unauthorised alterations to the premises can lead to complications and potential deductions from your bond. Always seek permission from your landlord / property manager before making any alterations or modifications. This includes painting walls, installing fixtures, or making structural changes. If you have a specific request, discuss it with your landlord or property manager and obtain written consent to avoid misunderstandings later.
Avoid smoking inside
If you smoke inside the property, the smell can get into the carpet and walls, which is very difficult and costly to remove. Heavy smoking can also stain the walls.
Pet-Proof Your Home
If you have pets, it is essential to pet-proof your home to avoid stains, smells, scratches, blinds/curtain damage, damage to the garden, and pet hair in the carpet. You should also exercise your dog and give them toys to avoid boredom and prevent damage to the house.
Prepare for Routine Inspections
Routine inspections are a standard practice in many rental properties. These inspections allow them to assess the condition of the property, identify any maintenance issues, and ensure that it is being well-maintained. It’s important to make sure the property is presented at its best. So, take advantage of the opportunity to ‘spring clean’ and get those jobs done that aren’t normally included in your regular cleaning, like deep cleaning the oven, air conditioning filters, exterior windows etc.
Inform your landlord of your plans to vacate in advance
When you decide to move out, provide your landlord or property manager with sufficient notice in advance. Adhere to the notice period stated in your lease agreement, which is usually 28 days (with the 28th day falling on or after the expiry date of the fixed term lease.) Giving proper notice allows your landlord to plan for future tenancies and minimises complications when it’s time to vacate.
Follow Proper Cleaning Procedures
Before moving out, it’s essential to thoroughly clean the property. Follow proper cleaning procedures for each area, including the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and common areas. Use appropriate cleaning products and methods for different surfaces to avoid causing damage. Pay special attention to high-use areas and ensure that all spaces are left in a clean and presentable condition.
Remove Any Hooks from the Walls
When you move out, it is essential to remove any hooks from the wall unless the owner has provided permission for them to stay. The walls also need to be returned to the same condition as when you moved in, so it might be a good idea to only use temporary hooks that don’t leave a hole or mark.
Seek Professional Cleaning Assistance if Needed
If you are unable to clean to the required standard or prefer to leave the task to professionals, consider hiring a reputable cleaning service. End-of-lease cleaning services specialise in preparing rental properties for inspection and can ensure that the property is cleaned to the expected standard. You should consider using your property managers recommended cleaners as they’ll be familiar with standard expected. Keep receipts and records of the professional cleaning service for reference and provide them to your landlord or property manager if required.
Provide Accurate Forwarding Details
Before moving out, provide your landlord or property manager with accurate forwarding details. This includes your new address, contact number, and any other relevant information. By providing updated and accurate details, you ensure that any correspondence or important information reaches you without delay. Update your contact information promptly if there are any changes after moving out.
Be Cooperative and Professional Throughout your Tenancy
Maintaining a cooperative and professional attitude throughout your tenancy is essential. Respond promptly to requests or inquiries from your landlord or property manager. Cooperate during inspections, repairs, or any other necessary procedures. By demonstrating professionalism and a positive attitude, you contribute to a smoother tenancy experience and increase your chances of receiving your bond back in full.
Can my landlord withhold my bond for minor damages?
No, your landlord cannot withhold your bond for not considered normal wear and tear. The bond should only be used for significant damages beyond normal use.
What can I do if my landlord refuses to return my bond?
If there is a dispute over the bond and both parties cannot agree, an application needs to be made to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 10 business days of the tenant vacating to settle the dispute. Renters can also apply to the RTBA directly to release their bond, in which case the landlord would then need to lodge with VCAT before the expiry of the claim request. You can also seek information from Tenants Victoria, an association that has for over 45 years promoted and protected the rights of renters in Victoria.
Is it necessary to attend routine inspections during my tenancy?
No, it isn’t necessary for you, the tenant, to attend but you are welcome to as it gives you the opportunity to speak with the agent/landlord and report any issues. The agent is required to give you notice before the inspection and will carry a spare key if you can’t be there.
Can my landlord increase the rent when renewing the lease?
Your landlord can propose a rent increase when renewing the lease. However, they must provide proper notice and follow the regulations outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act. You have the right to negotiate or dispute the proposed increase if you believe it is unfair or unreasonable.
Can I dispute deductions from my bond?
Yes, you have the right to dispute deductions from your bond if you believe they are unfair or unjustified. Seek advice from the relevant tenancy authority or tribunal in your area to understand the dispute resolution process and protect your rights as a tenant. You can connect with Consumer Affairs Victoria, Tenants Victoria or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Securing your bond as a Melbourne renter requires responsibility, effective communication, and proper maintenance of the rental property. By understanding your lease agreement, documenting the property’s condition, promptly reporting maintenance issues, keeping the property clean and tidy, practising responsible pet ownership, paying rent on time, communicating effectively, conducting a thorough final inspection, familiarising yourself with the Residential Tenancies Act, and following proper procedures during your tenancy, you can increase your chances of receiving your bond back quickly in full. Remember, being a responsible and cooperative tenant not only benefits you but also sets a positive precedent for future rental opportunities. So, follow these top tips and enjoy a stress-free renting experience in Melbourne!