The following video (created by Consumer Affairs Victoria) explains bonds:

Claiming your bond

The most common type of bond issue for students is when they cannot agree with their landlord on the division of the bond after their tenancy has ended.

If the landlord will not agree to return your bond, the only way to resolve the dispute is for either the landlord or tenant to make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (also called “the VCAT” or “the Tribunal”). The Tribunal is like a court, but more informal. It is made for people to resolve disputes without a lawyer.

If the landlord lodged your bond with the RTBA

When you moved in, your landlord should have given you a completed Bond Lodgement Form to sign, then lodged your bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (“RTBA”) within 10 business days. You should have received an official receipt in the mail from the RTBA to confirm that the bond was lodged. If you are unsure whether your landlord lodged your bond, you can check this on the RTBA website.

If you cannot agree about the bond when you move out, your landlord only has 10 days from when you move out to make an application to the Tribunal. The tenant has no time limit, and there is no fee to make this application.

If you receive an order from the Tribunal saying that the landlord must repay your bond, and the landlord lodged your bond with the RTBA, you can claim your bond by filling in a Bond Claim Form, attaching a copy of the order, and sending these documents to the RTBA. Your bond will be refunded directly by the RTBA.

If the landlord did not lodge your bond with the RTBA

It is an offence for the landlord not to lodge your bond with the RTBA. You can report the landlord to Consumer Affairs Victoria by completing their online complaints form here. However, this will not help you to get your bond money back from the landlord.

If the landlord did not lodge your bond with the RTBA, and you cannot agree about the bond when you move out, the landlord and tenant each have a limitation period of 6 years to make an application to the Tribunal. An application fee applies.

If you receive an order from the Tribunal saying that the landlord must repay your bond, and the landlord did not lodge your bond with the RTBA, it can be difficult to get your money back from the landlord. This is because the Tribunal has no way to force the landlord to pay your money back. You can take other legal action to enforce the Tribunal order, however there are costs involved, and there is no guarantee of recovering your money. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your landlord gives you a Bond Lodgment Form to sign and lodges your bond with the RTBA when you first move in.

If you receive an order from the Tribunal saying that the landlord must repay your bond, and the landlord refuses to pay, please contact us to Get Legal Help.

Going to the VCAT

This guide explains how to make an application to the Tribunal. You should read the guide carefully. You can make an application online here. Depending on whether or not the landlord lodged your bond with the RTBA, an application fee and time limit may apply.

Once you submit the application, you will need to send a copy of the application to the landlord by post, together with a copy of your bond receipt and tenancy agreement (if you have these documents). You and the landlord will then both receive notice of a hearing date in the post. This might take several weeks, as the Tribunal is often very busy. You should make sure you provide your up-to-date postal address and email address on your application, so the Tribunal can contact you.

Once you receive notice of the hearing date, will need to attend this hearing at the time and place specified on the hearing notice, and present your situation. A person called a “member”, who is like a judge, will hear the arguments of both sides, then make a decision (called an “order”) about the bond refund.

If you are going to the Tribunal for a bond claim, you can use this tribunal hearing checklist, created by Tenants Victoria, to help you prepare.

Further resources

Legal information

Tenants Victoria: Your step-by-step guide to bond recovery

Tenants Victoria: Bond payments and refunds

Consumer Affairs Victoria: Lodging the bond

Consumer Affairs Victoria: Transferring the bond from one tenant to another

Consumer Affairs Victoria: Claiming the bond – tenants and residents

VCAT

VCAT Tenant Application Guide

VCAT: Application by a tenant or landlord

Tenants Victoria: Tribunal hearing checklist

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

Other

RTBA Online

 

The information on this website is not legal advice. It is legal information only. If you require legal advice, please contact the UMSU Legal Service here.

Last updated: 7 June 2019