When a tenant vacates your property, it’s important to understand your rights

When a tenant vacates your property, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities to avoid disputes and potentially save time and money.

What is a final bond inspection?

A final bond inspection is what you carry out once your tenant has ended the tenancy and delivered a vacant property. When this inspection is carried out (either by you or your managing agent), you should compare the property against the Property Condition Report.

The Property Condition Report is a report carried out before your tenant moves into your property. It is a comprehensive document that details your property’s condition, including any damages present before the tenant moves in.

If you’re self-managing your property, make sure you carry out this report very thoroughly. It’s a common area for discrepancies.

Your rights and responsibilities as a landlord

As a landlord, you have to uphold several responsibilities. Of course, as with most things in the property management industry, there is state and territory-specific legislation to protect your rights and your tenant’s rights.

Property damage
You’re entitled to have your property returned to you in a clean and undamaged condition at the end of a tenancy. There is, however, a difference between deliberate damage caused by recklessness and neglect and fair wear and tear. Your tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear on your property.

Conducting the final inspection
As soon as possible, you or your property manager must:

  • Conduct a final inspection of the property;
  • Prepare the final condition report describing the condition of the property; and
  • Provide a copy of that report to the tenant.

You must give your tenant a reasonable opportunity to attend this final inspection. It’s in the best interests of both you and your tenant to undertake a joint inspection when they move out and arrange for the return of the property keys.

How to cost repairs

You can hold your tenant liable for any wilful or neglectful damage they cause during their tenancy. However, unless your tenant has caused total havoc on your fixtures or fittings, it can be tough to determine what amount to charge for damages to contents. Generally speaking, if someone can reasonably repair the damage, only the repair costs can be charged.

If the damage is severe (i.e. carpet damage, which could require replacing), your tenant would be liable to pay for replacing the damaged carpet with one of similar quality to the original.

It can, however, be more difficult to assess burn marks or stains that you can’t remove. Consider factors like the age of your property and the size and location of the damage. Where possible, try to negotiate the sum of money deducted from the tenant’s bond as compensation.

Keep everything civil

Where possible, make every effort to agree with your vacating tenant on deductions from the security bond. If you cannot agree, try to compromise. If this still doesn’t go to plan, the bond disposal will need to be resolved in your state Magistrate’s Court.

Return of the keys

At the end of the tenancy, your tenant is responsible for returning all sets of keys provided to them. If they don’t return the keys, you can hold them responsible for the cost of changing the locks or charge them rent until the keys are returned.

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Jason Gwerder
Thursday, 21 October 2021

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