What is a bond and what is it for?

A bond is a payment made by tenants at the beginning of a tenancy that is held by an unbiased third-party (Tenancy Services) for the duration of the tenancy. 

  • The purpose of a bond is to provide a contingency fund in case there is outstanding rent, damages, or claims in relation to the tenancy.
  • Maximum bond is 4 weeks rent
  • In a boarding house, if the bond is less than one week the landlord is not required to formally lodge the bond, but must provide a receipt.
  • A standard bond must be lodged by the landlord/property manager within 23 working days of payment.

Lodging a Bond:

  • Tenant Responsibilities: 
    • NEVER sign a blank bond form.
    • Check over the paperwork before you sign it – if you’re unsure, OUSA Student Support can do this with you!
    • All of the tenants in a joint-tenancy (a tenancy shared between more than one tenant) should complete and sign the bond lodgment form. This will ensure that the bond is lodged under the correct names.
    • The whole bond for a joint-lease should be lodged at the same time, not in separate parts. Use the flat bank account and make a single payment – this provides a reliable record of the transaction and will prevent delays in the bond being lodged. 
    • Regardless of whether your bond is lodged online or via your landlord, you should be provided with a receipt of the transaction. If you don’t receive a bond lodgment receipt, ask OUSA Student Support for advice.
    • It is your responsibility to look after the property and keep it clean and tidy, so inform the landlord immediately of any issues with the property (email is best as this provides a written record of contact!), and make sure you update your details with the Bond Centre if they change. Take photos when you move in and out so you have a record.
  • Landlord Responsibilities: 
    • Cannot charge more than 4 week’s rent in bond.
    • Need to advise the tenants how they would like them to pay the bond.
    • Ensure all tenants pay their portion of the bond.
    • If the landlord is arranging the bond lodgment, they need to provide the tenants with a receipt. If the tenants lodge their bond via Tenancy Services’ online form, follow up with the Bond Centre to check that this has been lodged correctly.
    • Landlords need to regularly inspect the property, attend to any property maintenance in a timely manner, and ensure their contact details with the Bond Centre are correct.
    • If tenants pay their bond to the landlord, it needs to be lodged with the Bond Centre within 23 working days.

Bond Refunds: 

Before you move out, clean everything to the best of your ability. Once you have cleaned, take photos of everything! This will be really helpful in case of an unexpected claim on your bond. At the exit inspection, agree on the amount to be refunded with the landlord and then sign a completed bond refund form. If in doubt: don’t sign. If you cannot get hold of the landlord or there is a dispute about the refund amount, talk to OUSA Student Support. Once the amount is agreed on and the form is signed, the landlord or yourself sends the refund form to the bond centre. If there are any issues, contact OUSA Student Support for advice. Please: don’t sign a blank bond refund form!

  • Common Bond Issues: 
    • Non-lodgement: If a bond is not lodged with the bond centre or incorrectly lodged by the landlord it can be very hard to sort it out at the end of the year. If you are unsure whether or not your bond has been lodged you can always call 0800 737 666 to confirm.
    • Individual payments for joint tenancies: this can cause problems for yourselves, the landlord and the Bond Centre when it comes to lodging, which can really complicate things at the end of the tenancy.
    • Asking for too much money: Remember the maximum amount for bond is 4-weeks rent.
    • Giving the landlord any other form of financial security: The landlord cannot take any form of security in relation to the property other than the bond. The only other form of financial security a landlord may ask for is a guarantor’s agreement.
    • Professional cleaning and other false claims: Legally, you only have to leave your flat in a reasonably clean and tidy state, which means your landlord cannot charge you for professional cleaning (unless you have done something to genuinely warrant it). Remember to take photos at the beginning and end of your tenancy and report any damages during the tenancy in a timely fashion.  
    • Changing tenants: Changing tenants can cause problems with the bond, particularly if the bond is not transferred using the Bond Transfer form and lodged with the Bond Centre. To get help with this, contact OUSA Student Support.
    • Not lodging the bond under all tenants’ names: It is important that the bond is lodged under all names so that it can be divided evenly and returned to the correct people when the tenancy ends. 

Bond Throughout the Year: a summary

Beginning of the year: Take pictures or a video of the whole property when you move in or as soon as possible. Make a list or inform the landlord of all and any damage, wear and tear, mould, rubbish, dirt, and stains. This is so you can’t be held responsible for these issues at the end of the tenancy.

During the year: Report in writing anything broken, not working, or damaged straight away. Do regular cleaning to make the end of the year easier, get rid of rubbish regularly, wipe window sills regularly to stop mould and clean spills on the carpet as soon as they happen to try and avoid staining.

Ending the year: DO NOT SIGN A BOND REFUND FORM WHERE THE REFUND AMOUNT HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK (the risk here is that a landlord is able to fill any amount they wish to be refunded to them).

Do a thorough clean of the whole flat (including inside the oven, fridge, microwave, cupboards). It doesn’t have to be professionally cleaned, but should be left in a reasonably clean and tidy standard, which means all surfaces should have been wiped, toilet, shower and basin are clean, kitchen facilities clean, window sills and skirting boards dusted/vacuumed, blu-tac (if you were allowed to use it) on walls removed (be careful when you’re doing this that you don’t chip off any paint or wallpaper), and all floors mopped and vacuumed.

All rubbish and personal belongings need to be removed and the grounds left tidy too. Take your own photos of everything when you’re done so that you can compare your own records to those reported by the landlord in their final inspection.