Moving house can be awful. It usually takes longer than expected. You need to organise removalists, time off work, convince your friends to help, make sure your pets don’t run away and remember to go to the new house.
The last thing you need is to have your agent withholding your bond.
If they do, it can feel like fighting a giant.
Even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
So it’s super important to be familiar with your tenancy agreement to protect your rights as a tenant.
If you’re looking for a vacate clean checklist, head on over here. This article is about your tenancy agreement, what you are and are not responsible for when vacating a rental.
The information below is for Western Australia and is current as at Jan 2020. For other areas, check your local laws.
Your tenancy agreement begins when you’re moving in to a new place.
Anything you overlook when moving in could come back to bite you.
Property Condition Report
Your tenancy agreement begins when you move into a new place.
Anything you overlook when moving in can come back to bite you.
Your landlord must provide you with a Property Condition Report (PCR) and residential tenancy agreement, within 7 days of moving in. Your responsibility as a tenant is to return the property to substantially the condition that it was in when you moved in. The PCR will be your evidence.
You will need to check everything on the PCR carefully to ensure that everything marked clean and working, actually are.
Also check carefully for damage or dirt that is not on the PCR. Anything not listed on the PCR, you will be responsible for.
It’s easy to overlook things, so don’t be afraid to get pedantic.
Take extensive and detailed photos. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to settle any disputes that arise.
Get everything in writing.
Any time you’re dealing with your landlord or agent, do so in writing. If you do speak to them on the phone or in person, send a follow-up email to them recapping what was said. Just so that you have a written record to refer to. That way they can’t deny that they were told something, or claim that something different was arranged.
What am I responsible for?
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, you must leave the property in substantially the same condition as you found it. That means, the condition detailed in your PCR, minus reasonable wear and tear. Find out what constitutes wear and tear here.
So, things that were clean on your PCR will be clean on your final inspection.
Things that weren’t clean on your PCR, you’re not responsible for cleaning.
Everything that was in working order on your PCR should be in working order on your final inspection.
Things that weren’t in working order on your PCR, you’re not responsible for.
It’s not uncommon for real estate agents to push the limits of what you are responsible for so be aware of your rights as a tenant.
Do I need to get the carpets professionally cleaned?
Real estate agents often tell tenants that they have to get the carpets professionally cleaned. Your responsibility is to return the property to substantially the same condition as you found it. So if you’re able to do that without hiring a professional carpet cleaner, that is sufficient.
However, if you agreed to have the carpets professionally cleaned in your tenancy agreement and the landlord had them professionally cleaned when you moved in, then you are obliged to have them professionally cleaned. Your landlord should be able to provide a receipt for the carpet cleaning.
Landlords can’t withhold your bond for the cost of services or repairs that wouldn’t have benefited them.
So, if the landlord is having the carpets replaced or knocking down the house, you do not have to have the carpets professionally cleaned. In this case, obtain confirmation in writing that the landlord is getting the carpets removed.
Do I need to use the agents cleaners?
Real estate agents will sometimes tell tenants that they have to use their recommended cleaner.
This is false and not legal. They can recommend you a cleaner to save you looking for one, but they cannot punish you by withholding your bond for not using theirs. You can use any methods to return the property to substantially the same condition as when you moved in.
Do I need to use a carpet cleaner from the agent’s list?
Real estate agents will often say that you have to use a carpet cleaner from the Carpet Cleaning Association of W.A. This is again, false, you can use any professional carpet cleaner as long as they can provide a receipt, unless you agreed otherwise in your tenancy agreement. If the agent tries to insist that you use their service provider, ask them where it says in either your tenancy agreement or law that you have to use a specific service provider. Have these conversations in writing as if they try to withhold you bond over it, they will serve as evidence.
Do I need to get the windows cleaned?
There are no specific clauses relating to having the windows cleaned. That is why paying close attention to the condition of the property when moving in is important.
They should look as clean as the photos you have from your PCR.
We highly recommend that you or your cleaner attend the final inspection, and bring cleaning equipment. That way, if there are any cleaning issues, you can fix them on the spot.
The final inspection
The agent is required to do a final inspection as soon as possible after the tenant vacates the premises and within 14 days. Here they will raise any cleaning or repair issues. The agent is required to make all reasonable effort to allow the tenant to attend the final inspection. We highly recommend that you or your cleaner attend the final inspection, and bring cleaning equipment. That way, if there are any cleaning issues, you can fix them on the spot. The agent can sign off on it and you’ll be done.
You generally have 24 hours to rectify any issues raised on the final report although this will depend on your agent.
If there are any items raised that are not fair, stains or damage that were there when you moved in, or wear and tear, appeal them in writing straight away, providing photo evidence from your PCR.
What can my bond be held for?
Your landlord can hold your bond to cover the cost of cleaning or repairs, that are required to return the property to substantially the same condition as the PCR, that you have failed to attend to after the final inspection.
They cannot keep all or part of your bond to repair damage that was present when you moved in.
They cannot withhold your bond for wear and tear from fair use.
And they can only use your bond to repair damage incurred by you. For example if you left a red wine stain on the carpet, they cannot use your bond to re carpet the whole house, only that room.
They cannot withhold your bond for repairs or cleaning for services that would not benefit them, for example insisting on carpet cleaning if they are getting the carpets replaced.
Because they hold your bond, conflicting with real estate agents over the final inspection can be a difficult and frustrating experience. We recommend keeping things cordial, even if you feel like swearing at your agent. Be familiar with what’s expected of you as a tenant, get everything in writing, and attend the final inspection.