How Long Does a Landlord Have to Refund Bond?

May 4, 2023
how long does a landlord have to refund bond

Key takeaways:

    • A landlord generally has 2 to 6 weeks to refund a rental bond in Australia, depending on the state and whether there are any disputes

    • Tenants and rental providers should follow the bond refund process outlined by their state’s tenancy authority, including completing a bond refund form and addressing any outstanding issues

    • In case of bond disputes, try to negotiate with the rental provider or seek external assistance from the relevant state authority or a tenancy advocate

If you’ve been a tenant for a while, you probably know what a bond means in renting. And, when your lease comes to an end, you’re probably eager to get your rental bond back. But how long does a landlord have to refund bond? In Australia, the time frame generally ranges from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the state and whether there are any disputes. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the bond refund process, including the steps for both landlords and tenants to follow for a smooth experience.

Understanding rental bonds

Upon signing a lease, tenants typically have to pay a security deposit known as a rental bond. It serves as financial protection for landlords against unpaid rent, damages, or breaches of the tenancy agreement. Some landlords may request to pay the bond before signing a lease as well.

In most cases, bond money is held by a state authority, such as the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) in Victoria or NSW Fair Trading in New South Wales.

In some cases, you can receive bond assistance in VIC or whichever state you’re living in if you struggle to fund the bond and meet the requirements.

Common reasons for bond disputes

Here are a few common reasons for rental bond disputes.

  • Disagreements over property damage or cleaning costs
  • Unpaid rent or utility bills
  • Breaches of the tenancy agreement

As long as both the landlord and the tenant keep to the lease agreement, there shouldn’t be any rental disputes and you can get your rental bond back in full. Do your best to keep the property clean upon leaving it and do research on how much a bond clean is so you can hire a cleaner if you prefer not to do it yourself.

The bond refund process

  • The rental provider conducts a final inspection to assess the property’s condition
  • Tenants are expected to show up and verify that any necessary maintenance or cleaning has been done
  • Review of the tenancy agreement and exit condition report
  • Compare the property’s condition at the start and end of the lease
  • Use the initial condition report and exit condition report as a reference
  • Unpaid rent and other costs
  • Landlords can claim the bond amount for unpaid rent or other costs specified in the tenancy agreement
  • Tenants should settle any outstanding payments to avoid delays in the bond refund process

Initiating the bond refund process

Both tenant and rental provider need to complete and sign the bond claim form, including bank account details for the refund. Rental Bonds Online (RBO) can be used in some states, such as NSW, to streamline the process. 

After completing it, both parties must submit the refund form to the relevant authority, whether it is online or by post. You must check the frame of submission, which can vary between states.

Receiving the bond refund

The typical timeline for bond refunds is between 2-6 weeks, depending on the state and the method of submission. Keep in mind processing times for the RTBA and your Australian bank account, which may increase the time.

Additionally, consider possible delays in the bond refund, which may happen due to incomplete or incorrect information on the form. Delays may also happen due to disputes between tenants and rental providers, especially about the rental agreement.

Handling bond disputes

There are a few ways to handle a bind refund, such as having a negotiation with the provider and being open in your communication.

  • Discuss any disagreements openly and honestly with your rental provider
  • Aim for a mutually beneficial resolution
  • Evidence of property condition
  • Present photos, receipts, or other documents to support your case
  • Remain calm and professional during negotiations

Seeking external assistance

If dialogue does not work, you may consider getting help from the appropriate authorities.

  • NSW Fair Trading or Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • If an agreement cannot be reached, the appropriate authority should be contacted
  • Keep in mind the time frame for dispute resolution, which varies between states

Timeframe for resolution

Resolutions can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months if the matter is particularly complex. Therefore, stay patient and follow the advice of the relevant authority.

Understand your rights and responsibilities

  • Familiarise yourself with the Residential Tenancies Act in your state
  • The Act specifies the duties and protections of both tenants and landlords
  • Being informed will help you navigate the bond refund process more confidently
  • Check the specific bond refund regulations in your state
  • Bond refund rules and timeframes can vary between states
  • Consult your state’s tenancy authority or fair trading website for accurate information


What is considered fair wear and tear in a rental property?

The term “fair wear and tear” is used to describe the typical deterioration of an item over time and via regular use. Examples include faded paint or worn carpets, but not torn curtains or damaged walls.

Can a landlord withhold a bond refund for unpaid rent?

A landlord can claim the bond amount for unpaid rent and other costs specified in the tenancy agreement, provided they follow the proper bond claim process.

What should I do if I don’t receive my bond refund within the expected time frame?

Contact your rental provider or property manager to inquire about the delay. If the issue remains unresolved, seek assistance from NSW Fair Trading or the relevant residential tenancies authority in your state or territory.

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