The sure-fire way to get your rental bond back

Just signed a new lease agreement and paid your rental bond? 

Then it’s likely you’re under the assumption that nothing will happen – and that you’ll receive a full refund upon vacating your rental property. 

But while this may be the case for most Australian tenants, according to 2018 Finder research, a hefty 30% of renters still lose their rental bond for not leaving the property in the same condition as when they moved in. 

For newcomers to the rental market, the bond is a fixed amount of money paid at the start of your tenancy which is transferred to Fair Trading Australia (in NSW). This is then held for the duration of the lease to cover any damage while you live there, but is returned to you once you vacate the property should you fulfil your obligations under the agreement – including cleaning the property and paying your rent on time.

And considering that the bond is typically equal to four weeks’ rent, it’s a substantial sum that you’ll want to get back when moving on. 

So what determines ‘in the same condition’, and why do some tenants lose out with rental bonds?

In most cases, the ‘same condition’ means a thorough clean of the property to return it to a ‘reasonably clean’ state, as well as removing all personal belongings not included with the property. 

However the decision always comes down to the property’s condition report – that is, the record of its condition on the date you were given the keys. It’s this report that your agent or landlord will assess the current condition of your rental property against, in forming the decision to claim the bond and/or avoid unnecessary deductions. 

According to Domain Australia, one of the top reasons renters don’t get their bond back is because of damage caused by the tenant beyond fair wear and tear, and from a lack of cleaning. This is often overlooked at the end of a tenancy, and can come as a nasty surprise when expecting to have your bond returned – which is why most agents recommend to pay particular attention to cleaning ‘high traffic areas’, such as:

☐ Kitchen
☐ Bathrooms
☐ Outside areas such as front and back yards
☐ Laundry
☐ Light fittings and fixtures
☐ Blinds and curtains
☐ Walls
☐ Carpets
☐ Windows

Generally speaking, other common reasons that renters lose a portion or the full amount of their bond include: 

  • Rent arrears – owing rent or not paying on time
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Breaking the lease early and not paying the relevant fees
  • Not handing back all copies of the keys, requiring the locks to be changed
  • Taking items included such as fittings and fixtures in the property

At Prudential Real Estate, we’ve compiled a comprehensive ‘Bond Saver Checklist’  ([PDF Bond Saver Checklist] see here for full details). However tenants and landlords should check their specific obligations under their lease agreement. 

As with every case, it’s a good idea to keep your own records (including photos) of your rental property as soon as you move in, so that you can cover yourself should a claim against your bond arise.

Be sure to know your rights and responsibilities and to check over your lease agreement every time it’s renewed, so that you’re aware of any changes – especially since these can vary from property to property!

The above advice should be regarded as a broad guide only. For more information or to enquire about your specific circumstances, please refer to the Tenants’ Union page, Fair Trading NSW or get in contact with your local Prudential Real Estate Office:

Prudential Real Estate Campbelltown | (02) 4628 0033 |

Prudential Real Estate Liverpool | (02) 9822 5999 |

Prudential Real Estate Macquarie Fields |  (02) 9605 5333 |

Prudential Real Estate Narellan | (02) 4624 4400 |