40% of tenants lose part of rental bond

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Here to help . . Otago University Students' Association student support manager Sage Burke (right) and advocates Shinead Williams de Bique (left) and Justine Allen encourage students to seek help if they have issues with their tenancy. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

About 40% of Dunedin renters do not get their bond fully refunded at the end of a tenancy, statistics from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reveal.

A MBIE spokesman said between 2005 and 2016, on average, 61% of Dunedin tenants got their bonds fully refunded.

During that time, the amount of fully refunded bonds increased from 60% to 65%.

LJ Hooker operations manager Richard Thompson said the most common reason money was used from tenant’s bonds was to cover unpaid rent.

“The other most common case would most likely be . . . just for cleaning at the end.”

He said this did not happen often as the company had “plenty of tenants” who kept the property clean throughout the year and received a full bond refund.

“Generally, unless it’s malicious or anything like that it’s really only the cleanliness or rent arrears.”

He advised tenants to keep the property clean throughout the year, rather than having to do a big clean at the end of the tenancy.

Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) student support manager Sage Burke said students often sought advice from OUSA about getting their bonds back and a few went to the Tenancy Tribunal over the issues.

“As student budgets are usually very tight, not getting their bond back can be quite a big issue as they are often relying on that money for something else or paying next year’s bond.”

A common issue was when students left Dunedin before the end of their lease which meant that final inspections and paperwork were done long after they had moved out, Mr Burke said.

“This also makes it difficult to negotiate a remedy to any issues that may arise from the final inspection.”

Mr Burke advised students to take photos at the start of a tenancy to record any existing damage to the property, to inform the landlord when something needed repair and to keep a record of any communication with the landlord.

“Emails and texts are best because they provide a written record of any communication, agreements or negotiations regarding the tenancy.”