Disputes about bonds

The way you manage a dispute about the disposal of a bond depends on the type of accommodation you are renting.  

Residential tenancy

At the end of a tenancy, the landlord and tenant/s must agree on the bond disposal. Sometimes issues may arise. Reviewing property condition reports and seeking advice from Consumer Protection can help you to reach an agreement. Alternatively, a decision by the Magistrates Court may be needed.

The advice below will help you to understand the process. It is important to remember that it is an offence for tenants to stop paying rent with the intention that the amount owing will be taken out of the bond.

In order to have a bond disposed by agreement, the same parties (the tenant/s and landlord) on the bond lodgement form must also sign the disposal form.  If you can’t find the person to sign, you will need to seek a court order from the Magistrates Court.

When deciding how the bond will be allocated at the end of a residential tenancy the first and last property condition reports are key.  These reports provide a comparison and evidence as to the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy. 

A tenant is responsible to ensure the property is left at the end of the tenancy in a similar condition to how it was at the start of the tenancy, taking into account fair wear and tear. The tenant is responsible for the cost of repairing any damage to the rental property throughout their tenancy.  These costs can be claimed from the bond if the tenant agrees.

Negotiation help

If the landlord and tenant can't come to an agreement about the bond disposal or if a dispute arises over how the bond money should be paid out, it may be able to be resolved by negotiation.  

Consumer Protection offers services to help negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. Tenants can request assistance via the online complaint form. However, either the tenant or landlord can apply directly to the Magistrates Court for a court order for the bond disposal.

Magistrates Court

If it is necessary to seek a court order, a Form 6 Application for Disposal of Bond Money should be completed and lodged online from the Magistrates Court. Either the tenant or the landlord can begin this process.

Once the form is lodged, the court will send a copy to the other party, who has three options:

  • agree to settle the dispute; 
  • dispute the application by lodging a Form 5 Notice of Intention to Dispute Application for Disposal of Bond Money (from the Magistrates Court) within seven days, when the matter is set down for hearing before a magistrate; or 
  • ignore the notice, the court may then issue an order for the release of the bond after seven days.

If a dispute goes to court at the end of a tenancy, the magistrate will make an order as to how the bond money is to be paid out.

Remember, going to court doesn’t mean you will face high costs.

To enquire about the nearest court to you and to seek general advice on procedures, visit the Magistrates Court website or call 9425 2222.

The court officer cannot discuss with you whether they think you have a good case or not, that is for the magistrate to decide on the day of the hearing. They can, however, advise you on the forms you need to complete.

Residential parks long-stay tenancy

At the end of a residential parks long-stay tenancy, if the park operator and the tenant cannot agree on the amounts payable either party can make an application to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for a determination on how the security bond is to be disposed of.

Regardless of who ends the tenancy, the security bond will need to be paid out. However the Bond Administrator, will only disburse the bond if the tenant/s and the park operator agree on how much each party will receive from the bond.

If there is no dispute over the condition of the property, or the tenant/s and park operator have agreed how the bond money is to be distributed, they must complete a joint application for disposal of security bond form and submit it to the Bond Administrator.

If parties can’t agree, the SAT can resolve bond disputes. For more information about the SAT and resolving bond disputes, see the section 'When things go wrong: disputes and resolution' in the park living information booklet

It is an offence for tenant/s to refuse to pay rent with the intention the park operator will be able to recover it from the bond.

All bonds must be lodged with the Bond Administrator

If a tenant becomes aware a bond has not been lodged with the Bond Administrator, the tenant should immediately lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection.

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