Where a bond is in dispute the Rental Deposition Authority (RDA) automatically notifies the Residential Tenancy Commissioner for the purposes of resolving the dispute. A bond is in dispute when either tenant or owner has made a claim to the RDA and the other party disagrees, or when an owner has made a claim for a share of the bond, and the tenant has not responded within 10 days. The referral of the dispute to the Tenancy Commissioner is automatic, as is the dispute process.
The burden on both the owner and the tenant is that of establishing their case. For example, a tenant should provide information on why they are disputing the landlord’s claim on the bond, and a landlord would provide receipts and evidence of repairs being made. The Commissioner is likely to want:
- A copy of the residential tenancy agreement
- A copy of the condition report signed by both parties, from the beginning of the tenancy
- A copy of the condition report completed at the end of the tenancy
- Bank statements or the rental ledger
- Relevant documents, such as photographs, receipts and/or witness statements
Tenants need to show that the premises were left in a similar or cleaner condition than when they first moved in. If it is claimed they were left in a dirtier condition, the tenant should ask the property owner to substantiate the claim and prove any cleaning expenses.
Tenants should pay the rent until the end of the tenancy. They are not legally entitled to ‘deduct’ the last weeks of rent money from the bond.
The property owner is able to claim for any breach of the agreement and take action in the Magistrates Court to recover compensation where damage was done or the premises were left in a dirty condition. This is especially so where the actions of the tenants have caused the property owner to spend more than the bond money on restoring the premises to the condition it was at the beginning of the tenancy, excepting fair wear and tear. Claims in respect of residential tenancies are heard in the Magistrates Court, Civil Division.
The Residential Tenancy Act provides that the Residential Tenancy Commissioner also has the power to act in the case of boarding premises.