A bond is defined in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (RTA) as an amount paid or payable by a renter, resident or site tenant to secure their performance and observance of the residential rental, residency or site agreement (as the case may be) and the RTA: s 3 RTA
If a bond is required, the following steps must be taken at the start of the tenancy:
Renters should never sign a blank bond lodgment form, as this would enable the provider/operator to potentially give incorrect information to the RTBA and would be ultimately very difficult to challenge.
The same bond lodgment and payment rules apply to rooming house and caravan park residents and site tenants: s 404 RTA.
For rooming house residents, the bond cannot exceed 14 days rent, or for a fixed term rooming house agreement 28 days rent: s 96 RTA. For caravan park residents and Part 4A site tenants the bond cannot exceed one month’s rent: ss 147, 206K RTA. The maximum bond does not apply for site tenants if the site tenant pays more than $900 per week in rent or if the Tribunal has made an order under s 206M: s 206K(1)(b), (2); reg 78 Regulations.
For Part 4A site tenants only, a further bond cannot be demanded if a person enters a subsequent site agreement and remained in continuous occupation: s 206N and it is prohibited to demand a guarantee if a bond has been paid and the rent is less than $900 per week: s 206Q.
Bonds are prohibited for specialist disability accommodation enrolled dwellings: s 498ZL.
In this part residential rental provider includes rooming house operators, caravan park owners, caravan owners, and site owners and renter includes residents and site tenants: s 404 RTA.
At the end of a residential rental agreement, a renter or residential rental provider may apply to the RTBA for the repayment of a bond either to the renter or to the residential rental provider, or to be apportioned between them: s 411.
A bond claim form should be completed, signed and lodged with the RTBA in order to secure the bond’s repayment: s 411(2) RTA. Residential rental providers are prohibited from requiring renters to sign a blank claim form: s 411(5) RTA.
In limited circumstances a claim for bond repayment can be made before the termination of a residential rental agreement, including where the claim is made jointly by or on behalf of the residential provider and all the renters, where the residential rental provider makes the application and directs that all the money be returned to the renters, or where the renters make the application and direct that all the bond be paid to the residential rental provider: s 411(4) RTA.
The RTBA must repay the bond where there is no dispute between the parties: s 411AC.
If a claim for the whole or part of a bond is made by a residential rental provider or renter without the consent of all of the parties to the residential rental agreement, the RTBA must give written notice to all other parties to the residential rental agreement: s 411A(2).
The notice must state, amongst other things, that the RTBA will pay the claim unless within 14 days after receiving notice, the party gives written notice to the Authority that the claim is subject to an application to the Tribunal: s 411A(3)(c).
The residential rental provider can make a claim for, without limitation, the following matters (s 411AB):
If a party notifies the RTBA that the bond claim is the subject of an application to the Tribunal, the RTBA must not pay the claim until the proceeding is finally determined, including any appeal, unless:
Any person with an interest in a bond claim may apply to the Tribunal for an order requiring the RTBA to repay the bond: s 419A.
This includes residential rental providers, renters and other interested persons (for example, previous co-renters). The Tribunal can make an order requiring repayment of the bond to any party.
Applications to the Tribunal must be made within 14 days of the residential rental agreement being terminated: s 419A(2).
Family violence considerations
In Tribunal applications under s 420A, special rules apply about bond returns where a renter is a victim-survivor of family or personal violence.
Family violence perpetrator is a renter
Under s 420A, if the Tribunal is hearing an application for repayment of a bond involving two or more renters, and the Tribunal is satisfied that one of the renters is a victim of personal violence or family violence, it may order that:
For the purposes of this section, the applicant is not required to prove that the alleged perpetrator of family violence has been convicted of an offence, or is subject to any form of safety notice or intervention order.
Family violence perpetrator is not a renter
Under s 420B, if the Tribunal is hearing an application for repayment of a bond where the alleged perpetrator of the violence is not a renter under the residential rental agreement, the Tribunal may find that the victim of personal violence or family violence is not liable for any loss or damage suffered by the residential rental provider, if it is satisfied that:
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