How tenants can protect their deposits

Sheree Peach, Residential Rentals Manager at Renprop, discusses the essential items for tenants to check and know about when moving into or out of a rental property in order to protect their deposits

Whether moving in or out of a rental property, tenants want to ensure their deposit is protected. Sheree Peach, Residential Rentals Manager at Renprop, says that when moving into a rental unit, tenants will need to pay a deposit (which is usually based on one month’s rent, sometimes two) as well as whatever rental amount has been agreed upon in the lease.

Rental deposits are then held in an interest-bearing account for the duration of the lease term, with the interest accumulating for the tenants’ benefit. Peach says that when the lease agreement comes to an end, tenants should ask for a full statement of account on their deposit so they know what is owed to them when they move out.

She points out that the state of the property before the tenant moves in and after they move out at the end of the lease period is one of the biggest influencing factors on the deposit, and whether or not the full amount will be refunded to the tenant once they have moved out of the property.

She provides some advice to tenants as to how they can protect their rental deposit:

When moving in

While typically a rental agent will go through a basic snag list with the tenant upon them receiving the keys to a property, it is often only after a person has been in a home for a longer period of time that they notice what works and what doesn’t.

Peach notes that tenants who have moved into a rental unit have just seven days from being handed the keys to report any additional issues they may have come across. “Should a tenant discover additional snags to those on the snag list drawn up with their agent or landlord, they should report it in writing. It’s also a good idea to document the defects with photos as a record to be sent to the agent or landlord,” she says.

To avoid any potential problems down the line, Peach advises tenants to perform a comprehensive check with the agent when the keys are handed over. “This includes turning on lights and taps to check they all work properly, as well as less obvious things like flushing toilets and opening cupboard doors and drawers.”

A thorough inspection with snags sent to the landlord or rental agent in writing means that when it comes time to move out, defects that existed previously are not blamed on the tenant, who will then forfeit part or all of their deposit, depending on the nature of the problem, says Peach.

When moving out

Moving out is a big job with lots of boxes to pack and things to organise. However, Peach says that checking the rental property properly for any problems will protect the tenants deposit and ensure a smoother handover.

“Tenants should ensure they leave the property in the same condition it was when they moved in. This means carefully going through the unit, fixing anything obvious such as holes in the walls that pictures may have left, and giving it a thorough clean, even though a cleaning fee may be part of the lease agreement.”

Peach says that tenants will lose a portion of their deposit - and end up paying more for small items like light bulbs that need replacing, for example – if they don’t attend to these matters before they move out. “Tenants can easily fix these kinds of items themselves for much less than what they will be charged if the landlord has to call a professional in to take care of it. There may also possibly even be call-out fees involved when a contractor is required to fix anything.”

Peach concludes by saying that the rental process can be hassle free, with deposits returned promptly should tenants be aware of what needs to be checked and taking proper care of the property they are renting.

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