Moving is a stressful time whether you're moving around the block or relocating interstate. Even hiring professional movers won't completely remove the stress! Here are some tips to avoid disputes with your property manager and ensure a speedy bond return.

Check your original condition report - hopefully you've kept a copy of the original condition report provided at the start of your lease which noted its original condition and level of cleanliness. This is the report that all agents refer to when comparing the properties original condition to the condition you've handed it back in. If there are carpet stains, damage to walls, floors, appliances or items are actually missing from the property, chances are your property manager will pick that up and ask you to go back and fix it (or they'll charge you for a professional to do so if directed by the landlord). So your best bet is to figure out what is fair wear and tear & fix anything that isn't.

Engage a Professional Cleaner - I know, it costs money and why pay someone to do something that you can do yourself? I hate to be the bearer of bad news but many tenants fail to clean a property adequately because they are a) too busy moving into their new home & have underestimated how much time it takes to move, unpack and clean, b) are not very good at clearning/are not using the right products, c) can’t be bothered or d) all of the above. When providing your written notice to vacate your agent would usuually send you a checklist along with their recommended cleaners contact infomation  (whom they recommend for a reason - the cleaners know what the agents expect!). If you do decide to engage your own preferred cleaners it's important to remember that you generally get what you pay for. Cheap cleaner = cheap results.

Sugar soap your walls - One of the best tips I can give you is to sugar soap your walls! It's only normal for scuff marks to appear over time and whilst in most cases it is considered fair wear & tear, by washing them properly you can guarantee it won't be a potential reason for your bond release being delayed. The property manager inspects the property when it's vacant, so small items become more obvious when not surrounded by boxes and furniture. Whilst it may seem small to you, it stands out to them.

Return all keys and garage remotes - At the commencement of a tenancy, all keys and remote controls are photocopied and kept on record to show how many of each were provided. When vacating a property you will be expected to return all keys by a specified time and failure to do so may result in costs for key replacement or even a complete lock replacement as missing keys may be a sign that you have kept one and the house may be classified as insecure. Whilst the cost to replace standard keys is low (but bear in mind that you may have to pay for changing the combination if keys weren’t returned) , the cost to replace remote controls or specialised FOB's/ keys will incur higher costs as they generally need to be ordered through the Body Corporate.

Speak with your Property Manager - If you are aware of damages which may delay your bond return or reduce the amount of bond you get back, it's best that you reach out to your property manager for their advice and recommendations. The damage may be able to be repaired without being replaced and your property manager should have a list of tradesman at the ready to assist you. For example, if you have stained carpets you could engage a specialist stain remover, or if you have damaged walls you could engage a handyman to patch and paint over the damage. Be honest with your property manager- it will get them on your side and you can work together to resolve any problems.

Understanding the bond return process - In Victoria, your landlord has 10 business days to make a claim against or finalise your bond. When settling the bond your agent or landlord will either provide you with a form for you to sign and return (only ever sign a form where the value of your bond return is written - never sign a blank form) or they will email you a link to the residential tenancy bond authority to process your bond online. Make sure that you provide your forwarding address and bank details as well.

If you and your landlord or agent cannot agree on the bond refund amount within the 10 business days your agent will most likely make an application at VCAT to extend the deadline of your bond for a further two weeks. If no agreement can be reached, you may end up at Tribunal where you will be asked to provide evidence to back your dispute and justify why you should be entitled to the return of the bond.

Alana Bess
Senior Property Manager


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