Tenants – Avoid a Deposit Dispute

Sadly it happens too often that there is a dispute between tenant and landlord or agent, which results in unhappiness for one or all parties.  In most cases, if the proper processes are followed, the unpleasantness of these disputes can be mitigated or even completely avoided.


Let’s start on the premise that all parties are generally good and honest people and don’t want to cheat anyone out of anything.  Whilst there are exceptions, let’s use this as the basis for discussion.


The consumer protection act requires an inspection to be carried out between the landlord or their agent, and the incoming tenant.  The more detailed this inspection is, the more the new tenant is covered and avoids becoming liable for a previous tenants’ sins.


It’s important that the tenant is present for the move-in inspection, and that all problems are clearly noted on the inspection report and signed off by all parties.  Look inside cupboards and built-in appliances.  Ensure they are all in good working order.  Check sanitary ware for cracks and missing plugs.  Ensure light fittings work and that they all have globes.  Make sure the pool pump works, air-conditioner remotes, garage and gate remotes, and all keys are accounted for.  Be thorough – you’ll be grateful later.


In most cases, the landlord or their agent will inspect the property during the lease period as well.  Accommodate this request if you’re the tenant and be present.  Note items that are just fair wear and tear.  If you have damaged something then be honest and take ownership of it.  A record of honesty and transparency with your landlord may give you the benefit of any future doubts.


During the lease, if there is any damage to the property, either due to bad weather, or fair wear and tear, report it to the landlord or their agent immediately.  Do so in writing by email as well as by phone so that you have a record of it.  If you delay in reporting any problems and further damage is done that could have been avoided, you could become liable for those costs.  So take all reasonable efforts to act promptly.


Prior to you moving out of your rental, a preliminary inspection will be done.  Items that you are responsible for will be highlighted.  Take immediate action to have them rectified prior to moving out.  Once you have moved out, a last inspection will be done.  Make sure you are present.  Address any issues with the landlord or agent, and hand over all keys and remotes.


If everyone is happy then ask for confirmation by email or on the written report that the property is accepted in the condition with no further liability to you.  You would have removed most of the pitfalls that lead to disputes and the agent will be in a position to refund your deposit swiftly.  If in doubt, communicate, and cover yourself in writing.


Steve Caradoc-Davies

Principal, Harcourts Platinum

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