Why you may not get your bond back

Renting can be tough. There are so many expectations and obligations placed on tenants, and it can be especially hard for those tenants who don’t know all the ins and outs of the rental processes. If you’re a first-time tenant, you’re given so much information at once that it can be hard to retain it all.

You’ll know you have to pay a few weeks’ rent up front, as well as a bond payment.

But what is a bond payment? Will you get it back when you vacate the property? What are the reasons that you may never see that money again?

If these are questions that you need answering, read on to find out.

What is a bond payment?

A bond payment is simply additional financial security for the landlord. 

If a tenant is responsible for certain costs and refuses to pay the fees once they’ve vacated the property, the landlord is then not forced to cover those costs from their own pocket.

The bond is held by a third party throughout the tenancy, to be returned to the tenant after they have vacated the property and the landlord or real estate agent has inspected the property for any damages.

So, what are some potential reasons that you might not get your bond back?

Property damage

It should be fully expected by the property manager and landlord that having someone living on the property will cause some wear and tear. This type of damage – such as fittings wearing out or carpets being worn down in high-traffic areas – does not affect the return of your bond payment, but rather is the landlord’s responsibility to update if they so desire.

However, costs for repairing damage beyond the expected wear and tear – such as stained or torn carpeting, or holes in the walls or doors – can be taken out of the bond payment. These damages could be fixed prior to vacating the property, provided that any major changes are approved by the landlord. If you’re unsure that you’re allowed to fix something yourself, it’s always best to check with your property manager to make sure you’re not overstepping any legal boundaries.

Unpaid rent

As a tenant, it is your responsibility to remain up-to-date in your rent payments. You may receive notices that you are behind on your rent, but it is always your responsibility to pay, as per the lease agreement that you signed. If you return the keys to the property while behind on your rent, the property manager is allowed to take the remaining payments out of your bond before returning the bond money to you. 

Non-approved alterations

Landlords expect tenants to return the property in the condition it was leased out to them, and this is often written into the lease agreement. But if tenants alter the property without the owner’s consent – for example removing an internal wall, repainting, or other such renovation measures – the bond money may be used to return the property to its original state. 

If you want to make any adjustments to your rental property, be sure to gain permission from the landlord to ensure that you’re not overstepping the boundaries of your lease. 

Not suitably clean

Many lease agreements include the requirements for cleaning upon the tenants vacating the property. It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that they are returning the property as clean as it was when they moved in. If the property isn’t up to standard, the vacate cleaning costs could be taken out of your bond. 

Forgotten cleaning items

In addition to the general cleanliness of the property, there are specific things that property managers look for once the tenant has vacated – things that tenants often forget to clean when they’re moving out.

Some things don’t get cleaned regularly, and that’s normal – but make sure that you’re deep cleaning the property at the end of your tenancy, or the costs could get taken out of your bond. 

Make sure to check light fittings, exhaust fans, skirting boards, blinds, and fan blades. Also, ensure that you deep clean the insides of the oven and dishwasher, as property managers are sure to check inside for stains or baked-on spills. 


Mould is usually found in wet areas, and some types of mould can be harmful to the health of the home’s occupants. Mould must be dealt with before the next tenant moves in, and the costs could be taken out of your bond. Remember to regularly check wet areas for growing mould to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Keys not returned

If you have vacated the property and failed to return the keys, the property is no longer secure, and the bond covers the cost of replacing the keys or changing the locks throughout the property. New tenants must be able to access the property and be assured that it is secure. 

Changing the locks ensures that no one other than the current tenants and the property managers will be able to enter the property at a later date. 

Non-maintained gardens

If the property has a garden space, often the lease will stipulate that the tenant has the responsibility to maintain them in their current state.

Admittedly, gardens are affected by the weather and other elements beyond the tenant’s control, but it is important that they take care of the gardens on their property. The tenant can take this on themselves, but there is nothing stopping them from hiring a garden maintenance service to ensure that the garden is not abandoned.

Any costs incurred to restore the garden to its former glory after the tenants have vacated the property will be taken out of the bond.

Good tenants

Good tenants are known for maintaining the property to a very high standard of cleanliness. If you avoid the mistakes above, you should have your full bond returned to you and receive a very good reference for any future rental properties you apply for. 

We hope this information was able to help you understand bond payments and what may affect having that payment returned to you when vacating a rental property – good luck and happy renting!

Adnan Sarpal

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