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Rental Bonds Online launched

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Our new service Rental Bonds Online was officially launched this week - allowing tenants, agents and private landlords to lodge and refund bond money quickly and securely over the internet.

Here’s a refresher on how the bond system works. New tenants pay their bond as a form of security in case they breach the tenancy agreement. All bonds taken by agents or private landlords must be lodged with NSW Fair Trading. While many tenants get their full bond back at the end of the tenancy, a landlord or agent can make a claim against the bond for certain reasons, such as damage or rent owed, after the tenancy ends.

Rental Bonds Online makes the process of paying and refunding a bond easier for everyone. Agents and private landlords can lodge bonds in minutes without time-consuming cheques and paperwork. Tenants can pay their bond direct to NSW Fair Trading, using a credit card or BPAY. SMS and email updates let everyone know what is happening with a bond and refunds can be agreed to and paid into bank accounts quickly, often overnight.

Find out more about this new service at our Rental Bonds Online page. You can also read the media release - NSW Rental Bonds System Goes Digital.

Get a quick introduction by watching our video: Rental Bonds Online – the smart way to manage your bond.

Rental Bonds Online video
 

Answers to your questions on rental bonds

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Question: Does a rental bond have to be taken, and if so, how much bond can be paid?

Answer: While taking a bond isn't compulsory, it is highly recommended unless there is a good reason not to.

The rental bond cannot be more than the amount of 4 weeks' rent and must be lodged with NSW Fair Trading.

You can read more on our Taking a bond page.
 
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Question: As a landlord, how do I lodge a bond with NSW Fair Trading?

Answer: If an agent is managing your property, they should lodge the bond on your behalf. If you are a self-managing landlord, you are responsible for lodging the bond with NSW Fair Trading. Landlords or agents must not keep the money or put it into an account in the tenant's name.

When taking a tenant's bond, you must give them a receipt or record of the payment details on the tenancy agreement. You can lodge a bond in the following ways.

Using Rental Bonds Online

If you are using an agent registered to use Rental Bonds Online and your tenant has agreed to use the service, the agent will manage this process.

A self-managing landlord first needs to be set up on Rental Bonds Online.

For more details visit the Rental Bonds Online - For landlords page.

Paper based method

The steps to lodge a bond are:

  1. Obtain a Rental Bond Lodgement form from any Service NSW Centre or by calling 13 32 20. Each form has a unique barcode.
  2. Get the tenant to sign the form.
  3. Post the form with a cheque/money order for the bond amount to the address on the form, or lodge it at any Service NSW Centre.

Private landlords have 10 working days to lodge the bond with Fair Trading. You will receive confirmation (with the bond number) from Fair Trading once the bond is processed. Agents have 10 working days from the end of each month to lodge all bonds received that month.

You are advised to accept payments in cash, bank cheque or bank transfer from the tenant's account.
 
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Question: I want to pay my bond online, how do I do this?

Answer: To use Rental Bonds Online, your agent or private landlord must first be a registered user.

To support you using the service, when your agent or landlord invites you to use Rental Bonds Online, they should give you the Getting started with Rental Bonds Online - information for tenants (PDF size: 345Kbfact sheet. This outlines what you need to use the service and how you can pay your bond.

Be aware that you can't be forced to pay using the online service. You may choose to use the paper-based method.
 
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Question: How can I make changes to a rental bond that's been lodged with Fair Trading?

Answer: The way to make changes to a rental bond depends on the scenario, such as if:

  • you need to update your personal details
  • there is a change to the tenants registered on the bond
  • you need to transfer your bond to a new tenancy.
For changes to personal details

To update or change the personal information registered to your bond, you must supply your bond number with a copy of proof of identification and a letter to bondclaims@finance.nsw.gov.au detailing the required changes.

When there is a change of tenants

If at least one of the original tenants still lives in the rental property, you can register the name of a new co-tenant on an existing bond or remove the name of an old co-tenant, by filling in a Change of Shared Tenancy Arrangement (PDF size: 227kb) form. Have it signed by the outgoing and incoming tenants and the landlord/agent and return it to Fair Trading.

If you need to transfer your bond to a new tenancy

Fill in a Transfer of Bond (PDF size: 237kb) form. Have it signed by all the tenants registered to the original bond and by the original landlord/agent. Return it to Fair Trading with the new Rental Bond Lodgement form attached. You can only transfer your bond to a new tenancy if the same tenants are all moving to the same tenancy, the original landlord/agent has agreed and they are not claiming any of the bond.

If you lodged your current bond online, arrange with your landlord or agent to have it refunded and lodge a new bond for your new tenancy.
 
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Question: If paying the bond online, who pays if there are other tenants?

Answer: Choose who the Principal Tenant will be and tell your agent or private landlord. Their role is to:

  • register with Rental Bonds Online and pay the bond money to NSW Fair Trading
  • provide co-tenants' contact details so they can be kept informed by SMS and email of any changes to the bond
  • when a tenancy ends, submit or respond to a claim for the bond money to be refunded
  • distribute the refund to the other tenants.
For more details visit our Rental Bonds Online for tenants page.
 
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Question: How do I claim a refund of the bond money?

Answer: After completing the official condition report at the final inspection of the property at the end of your lease, you should discuss with your landlord or agent how the bond is to be paid out. After you agree on this, ask them to fill out and sign a Claim for Refund of Bond Money form (PDF size: 229kb) and give it to you so you can lodge it with Fair Trading. This way, the bond can be paid out straight away.

Never sign a blank Claim for Refund of Bond Money form. Always make sure the bond refund amounts are filled in before you sign the form.

If using Rental Bonds Online, refer to our information on refunding a bond at our Frequently Asked Questions for tenants page.
 

Tenancy Tales from the tenancy complaint service

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A tenant lodged a complaint with Fair Trading as her landlord wanted to keep her bond for a break lease fee which she didn't agree to.

It was discovered that the landlord hadn’t lodged the bond with Fair Trading. Fair Trading contacted the landlord and told them that although the tenant had vacated the property, they were still required to lodge the bond as their bond claim was being disputed by the tenant.

The landlord agreed to lodge the bond with Fair Trading and they were reminded of their obligations to ensure all bonds taken from tenants are lodged with Fair Trading.
 

Need more help? 

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If you can't find an answer to your question, you're welcome to call us on 13 32 20.

If you have a problem with a tenant, landlord or agent that you can't resolve, remember you can lodge a complaint online to use our free tenancy complaint service.
 

Share your views to help improve tenancy laws

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The NSW Government is reviewing tenancy laws. Between now and 29 January 2016, help us address questions about renting in NSW such as:

- is the equivalent of four weeks' rent for a bond the right amount? 
- is 60 days' written notice for a rent increase enough warning?
- should an agent, landlord or tenant ending a lease be able to SMS or email their notice to the other party?

Before having your say, read the Discussion Paper: Statutory Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (PDF size: 2Mb). It will guide you through key topics including starting a tenancy, bonds, rent and charges, tenants' and landlords' rights and obligations, ending a tenancy, and resolving disputes. You can then comment on the questions that are most relevant to your experience and interests.

Your feedback will help to highlight any law changes needed and may inform proposals for future reforms.

To have your say, send your comments by email or through our online submission form. Find out more at our Residential tenancy laws review page.
 

Strata law changes are coming

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The NSW Parliament recently passed more than 90 strata law changes, which are due to start in the second half of next year.

Based on extensive consultation, the new laws will help schemes to manage practical issues such as unauthorised parking, enforcing by-laws (the rules that the community follows) and what permission is needed for an owner to renovate their lot.

For more information visit our Reform of strata laws page.
 

Planning to buy off the plan property?

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Following consultation by NSW Land and Property Information and NSW Fair Trading, new laws have passed to better protect consumers buying property off the plan.

Developers will need a buyer's consent before they end a contract using a sunset clause, otherwise they need to apply to the Supreme Court to justify ending it.

Find out more by reading the media release - Off the plan protections secured and visit our Buying property off the plan page.
 

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