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Rental bonds: breaking ties with landlords and organising your bond

Steph MarshAlbany Advertiser
Steph Marsh is the senior regional officer for Great Southern, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
Camera IconSteph Marsh is the senior regional officer for Great Southern, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. Credit: Supplied

When you walk away from a tenancy, an important next step is working out how the security bond paid at the start of the lease will be distributed between tenant and landlord.

Tenants may be relying on getting back the money to help with finding a new place to live, while landlords may need some — or all — of the funds to cover damage or cleaning costs.

In 2022, only 36 per cent of tenants received all of their security bond back, according to new figures from the Bonds Administration Branch at Consumer Protection.

A portion of the funds was paid out to about 51 per cent of tenants, while 12 per cent relinquished all of the money.

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In other cases, neither the landlord nor tenant have laid claim to what was rightfully theirs at all — as the $4.15 million in unclaimed funds sitting with the Bonds Administrator and Department of Treasury currently shows.

With this huge unclaimed sum relating to tenancies that ended since 1990, we have been urging tenants and landlords (both past and present) to conduct a simple check on the Service WA app or the Treasury website to check whether they are owed any of this money.

When it comes to getting your own bond back, the property condition report (PCR) signed by all parties at the beginning of the tenancy is a key document that can be used to determine what damage, if any, occurred throughout the tenancy in case there is any disagreement.

For this reason, we also recommend tenants take photos of the property when they move in and include those photos with the PCR when it is returned to the landlord or agent.

All bonds must be lodged by the landlord or property manager with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of receiving the money, meaning landlords have no right to keep any amount paid as a security bond, unless agreed by the tenant or stipulated in a court order.

We offer a free conciliation service to tenants who are in dispute with their landlord over the return of their bond, or if a dispute can’t be resolved, either party may make an application for orders to the Magistrates Court of WA.

More information about rental bonds is on our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au, or for help searching for unclaimed money and other queries, contact our Bonds Administration Branch on 1300 853 829.

Steph Marsh is the senior regional officer for Great Southern, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

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