Conflicts and disputes between you and your tenants can possibly arise at the end of the tenancy regarding the rental bonds. More than half of the disputes received by the RTA last financial year had been about bond disagreements.
This, however, can be avoided if you take time to get the “vacate inspection” done right. As a landlord, make it your responsibility to reach out and talk with your tenants prior to a vacate inspection. It is best to ensure that your tenant is fully aware of your particular process as agencies have different vacating practices. While you are at it, you also might want to clarify expectations and clarifications before the end of the tenancy.
As stated in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Section 188 (4)), tenants are expected to leave the property in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy with the exception of normal wear and tear.
Keep the communication channels open at all times, most especially from the time the notice is given up to the time when the bond is finalised. For the tenant to be fully aware of their obligations, direct them to the RTA website for further information.
The 3 Most Important Tips for a Successful Vacate Inspection
Advance Planning – Provide the tenant with an exit condition report, cleaning checklist and recommendations of cleaners and carpet cleaners should they not want to clean the property themselves. Also pest control companies for flea treatments if a tenant has had a pet.
Exit condition report – Remind the tenant that they have to complete the Exit condition report [Form 14a] as it is a requirement under section 66 of the Act. You can then compare it to that of the one filled in at the beginning of the tenancy. Include photos to serve as supporting evidence.
Communication – Avoid tenancy disputes by maintaining clear communication. You must remind the tenant of any special terms in their tenancy agreement before the term ends. If there are any misunderstandings or disputes, you have a chance to straighten it out when you talk to the tenant directly regarding the issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the tenants claim that they left the property in a better condition than when they moved in?
In cases like these, it is important that you prepare the Entry Condition Report supported by clear photos taken at the start of the tenancy. These can provide solid evidence of the state of the property right before the tenant moved in.
Can a tenant lay claim to the bond after they have handed over their keys?
It is being encouraged by the RTA that both the tenant and landlord submit an agreed bond refund (Form 4). In case one party submits a Form 4 without the other party’s signature, the RTA will inform the other party and open the option of a dispute resolution process.
What if the tenant owes you more than the bond as they have failed to meet their responsibilities?
You can claim the bond by submitting a Refund of rental bond (Form 4) to the RTA. Inform your tenant of your plan of action. They may agree on a payment plan where they will pay directly to you for the money they owed above the bond amount. Always remember that it is important to put any agreement in writing and sign it. An RTA dispute resolution process will begin if the tenant disputes the bond claim. If not, the RTA pays out the bond to you in agreement with your claim. If you want to claim money above the bond amount, you have to submit a Dispute resolution request (Form 16). However, if this doesn’t resolve the issue, a Notice of unresolved dispute will be sent to you and you can apply for compensation via QCAT.
Can I insist that the tenant uses a particular professional carpet cleaner?
No. As stated in Section 171 of the Act, tenants cannot be forced to purchase a particular service. You can, however, provide options for the tenant in case they ask you to recommend a cleaner in the area. What is important is that tenants return the property in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy, excluding normal wear and tear.