A bond is a sum of money that is usually paid to the landlord or their real estate agent at the start of your tenancy. It is held by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, which means that it’s still your money and doesn’t belong to the landlord or agent.
At the end of your tenancy the landlord may try and claim some or all of your bond as compensation for any damage to the property, for cleaning or for unpaid rent.
Credits: The Checkout and Redfern Legal Centre Tenants’ Advocate Tom McDonald (Published 5 June 2014)
When you pay a bond, you and the landlord or agent must sign a completed Bond Lodgement form from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).
If the Director of Housing (DoH) is paying for your bond under the Bond Loan Scheme, you will need to sign a completed DoH Bond Lodgement form. If the DoH is paying for part of your bond, you must use a DoH Bond Lodgement form for the amount that they are paying, and a Bond Authority Bond Lodgement form for the rest of the bond.
The landlord or agent must give you a copy of the form/s, which you should keep as a record of your bond payment.
If you pay a bond, the landlord or agent must give you 2 copies of a Condition Report signed by the landlord.
The landlord or agent must then lodge your bond money and the Bond Lodgement form/s with the Bond Authority within 10 business days of you paying it. You should receive confirmation from the Bond Authority that the landlord or agent has lodged your bond. If you don’t receive a receipt within 15 business days, you should contact the Bond Authority on ☎ 1300 137 164 (local call cost).
It is an offence if your bond has not been lodged. You can report this to Consumer Affairs Victoria, and you can also apply to VCAT for an Order requiring your landlord lodge your bond.
Generally, it is best practice not to pay a bond until after you have signed the lease agreement. Always make sure you get some proof when you pay a bond, especially if you pay cash.
If you move out of the property and the landlord and other tenants have agreed for someone else to take over your tenancy, you must notify the Bond Authority within 5 days that your interest in the bond has been transferred to the new tenant. You can do this by filling in a Tenant Transfer form (which must be signed by you, other tenants (if any), the new tenant and the landlord or agent) and sending it to the Bond Authority. The Bond Authority does not release the bond money until the end of the tenancy so it is up to you to arrange for payment from the new tenant. You should collect the payment from the incoming tenant before signing the Tenant Transfer form.
If you don’t transfer your bond to someone else, it is held with the Bond Authority until the end of the tenancy, when a number of things can happen:
If your landlord agrees that they won’t be making a claim against your bond, you and the landlord should apply to have the bond money returned to you. You, other tenants (if any) and your landlord or agent must sign a Bond Claim form, and on the form you must provide details of the bank account that you want the money to be paid into. Once the form is lodged with the Bond Authority, your bond should be paid into the nominated bank account on the next business day.
It is an offence for the landlord to give you an incomplete bond claim form to sign. If the bond is to be paid to you in full, make sure the full amount of the bond is recorded in the ‘Tenant payment details’ section. Make sure you keep a copy.
If your bond was paid by the Director of Housing under the Bond Loan Scheme and the landlord isn’t making any claim against it, you and your landlord or agent will need to complete a Bond Claim form and the bond money will be paid back directly to the Office of Housing.
If you agree that the landlord is entitled to some or all of your bond money, you can agree to have that amount paid out to them. You, other tenants (if any) and the landlord must fill out the Bond Claim form, stating how much of the bond is to be paid to the landlord and how much is to be paid to you.
If the bond is to be divided between you and the landlord, make sure you write the appropriate amounts in the ‘Tenant payment details’ section and the ‘Total amount payable to Landlord/Agent if applicable’ section. Check that these amounts add up to the total amount of the bond.
The Bond Claim form should not be completed before the last week of your tenancy. If the form is dated more than 7 days before the end of your tenancy, the Bond Authority won’t accept it. If your bond was paid by the Office of Housing under the Bond Loan Scheme, you cannot agree to have part of it paid out to the landlord. The landlord or agent must apply to the Tribunal for an order that they receive all or part of the bond. The Tribunal will notify the Office of Housing about any decision they make regarding a bond paid under the Bond Loan Scheme.
The bond is presumed to be your money, If the landlord wants to try and claim all or part of your bond and you disagree, they must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The landlord bears the responsibility to convince the Tribunal that their claim is reasonable and justified. Claims by a landlord or agent should be made within 10 business days of your tenancy ending. It is important that the landlord or agent have a forwarding address for you. If they don’t, the landlord and Tribunal may serve notices and documents at the rental property where you used to live. If the landlord or agent has a forwarding address you should be sent a copy of their application, and the Tribunal will send you a Notice of hearing telling you where and when you to turn up to defend the claim against your bond. You must turn up otherwise the landlord can lead undisputed evidence and they will likely get what they ask for as Orders can be made in your absence. If you cannot attend the hearing at the scheduled time you might be able to change the hearing date or attend by phone or video conference.
Applying for your bond is free and there is generally no threat of legal fees when attending the Tribunal. If you cannot reach an agreement with your landlord, or the landlord is simply taking too long, you can apply to the Tribunal any time after you move out. All you need to do is complete a general VCAT application asking for your bond back and attach your bond receipt.
Tenants can also make a compensation claim at the same time as a bond claim.
Whether it is you or the landlord who applies to the Tribunal, you should take the following information with you to the hearing:
If the landlord is making a claim against your bond, they have to give you a copy of their application form and any evidence that they want to use. They must give this to you before the hearing date. You should take this with you to the hearing.
If your bond was paid under the Bond Loan Scheme and the landlord succeeds in making a claim against it, you will still need to repay the bond loan to the Director of Housing. An unpaid debt to the Director of Housing can affect any future applications that you make for public housing or a bond loan.
After the Tribunal makes a decision, you will be given a copy of the decision called an Order. You can then complete a Bond Claim form without the landlord or agents signature. You attach a copy of the Tribunal Order to the bond Claim form and lodge this with Bond Authority The money will be released as directed by the Order.When more than one tenant is named on the bond receipt (eg in a shared household), you and the other tenants will need to agree as to how the bond should be paid out to each person.