Whether you’re finally ditching the flatmates for your very own studio apartment or you’ve just purchased your first starter home, attempting to get your full bond refund is always a daunting task. In fact, according to the NSW government, about half of renters lose some or all of their bond when they decide to end their lease.
Seeing stats like these, we felt we needed to help make a difference to renters’ hip pockets. To avoid ever having to head to a NSW Fair Trading tribunal to dispute your bond claim, check out our advice to avoid common pitfalls when it comes to getting your full bond back.
The initial condition report matters
Many renters place a lot of emphasis on the final inspection, but what can often make the most difference is taking the time to diligently fill out the initial condition report.
When first moving in, document the condition of the property on a room by room basis, filling in the necessary fields with as much detail and accuracy as possible. Potential tenants will often forego mentioning minor damages or obvious wear and tear for the sake of speeding up the rental process. But more often than not, these minor issues become the very disputes that tenants and real estate agents disagree on.
By diligently filling out the report and taking photographs to serve as evidence for cleaning, damage or missing items, tenants and real estate agents have common ground that they can base their final inspection on.
Empty out the furniture
Have you ever tried showering with clothes still on? How about vacuuming without picking up the toys first? Of course not. The same logic applies for moving out of a rental property. You’ll want to empty your entire apartment or house before attempting a thorough vacate clean.
Many renters are caught off guard by the mess they leave behind after a big move. From the dust bunnies hiding under the couch to crumbs in the back of the pantry or to a stack of mouldy magazines forgotten in the garage, there are more than a few places that can be overlooked during the lifetime of a tenancy. Emptying your home gives you the chance to easily address all these issues that would otherwise slow you down during your bond clean.
If you’re looking to hire removalists, check out our handy Guide to Finding the Right Moving Company before you make that decision.
Don’t forget the outdoors
While most of your time will be spent focusing your energy indoors, your rental agreement will also require that your outdoor areas be well maintained. For the lucky few in Sydney, that usually means a wonderfully lush garden or a refreshingly cool swimming pool.
You’ll need to mop your balcony, mow the lawn, weed the garden, trim hedges, and if you have pets, double-check that they didn’t leave behind any nasty surprises. With some basic landscaping skills, you can ensure that your garden is more than presentable. Swimming pool owners will also need to remove any dirt, debris and algae from the pool and filters.
Your landlord will walk the entire length of the property to ensure that it wasn’t neglected and a beautifully maintained garden and swimming pool will leave a lasting impression that you were a model tenant. As tenants, keeping these tasks in your regular maintenance schedule will prevent a big backlog of work needing to be undertaken when you move out.
Use a bond cleaning checklist
You wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting the outdoors if you had an end of lease cleaning checklist. Most real estate agencies will provide tenants with a comprehensive room-by-room guide on how to return the property in its original condition. An end of lease cleaning checklist will take the guesswork out of what your agent is looking for and will also ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
Build a good relationship with your agent or property manager
A real estate agent or property manager works on behalf of the owner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get on their good side. With the fate of a full bond refund in their hands, building a rapport with them could be the deciding factor on how critical they are during the final inspection.
You’ll have more than a few chances to meet with your agent. From the first open house to a routine property inspection, take every opportunity to make their lives a little bit easier and they’ll hopefully return the favour.
Immediately informing them of any damage or pressing maintenance issues that could become worse (mould growth, leaky plumbing, etc.), always paying the rent on time, and working around their schedules will help them see you in a favourable light when the time comes to make a decision about whether your vacate clean is up to scratch.
Well there you have it, our tips to safeguard your rental bond initially, during and after you move out. If you’re looking for more moving resources, check out 10 things to do when moving to a new home and your moving and packing survival kit.