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If you’re renting a home, chances are you’ve paid a security bond at the start of your lease to guard against damage or unpaid bills.
Typically worth four weeks’ rent, the bond is a large chunk of money that many tenants may be relying on receiving back at the end of a tenancy to help with the costs of moving and finding a new place to live.
However, new figures released by the Bond Administration Branch at Consumer Protection revealed only 34.6 per cent of tenants received all of their bond money back in 2021. Around 12.7 per cent of tenants lost all their bond last year, while 52.5 per cent farewelled part of it.
Aside from complaints about bond money taking too long to be released, some of the other major reasons people complain to us include disagreements about the property condition report (PCR), as well as the property not being properly cleaned when the tenant vacates.
When it comes to cleaning and fixing damage, landlords are only able to charge a tenant for the actual costs incurred, not a pre-estimated cost.
If tenants and landlords can’t agree, the PCR is relied upon to determine what damage, if any, occurred during the tenancy.
For this reason, it is in a tenant's best interests to ensure the PCR is accurate at the start of the tenancy and for both parties to make sure the report is completed and signed.
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. Tenants and landlords are reminded that a PCR should be completed within 14 days of the end of a tenancy.
Given all bond money is required to be lodged with the Bond Administrator, tenants should know that 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: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/bonds
Executive Director for Consumer Protection