A bond is a payment that rental providers (previously called landlords) can request at the start of a rental agreement (lease). It is held in trust during an agreement by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).
Bonds cover damage and other costs rental providers may have to pay when the renter moves out.
The bond and rent are separate payments. Bond cannot be used to pay rent.
Condition reports are important evidence for bond claims and must be given to renters before they move in.
On this page:
Other pages have information about claiming a bond at the end of an agreement and when additional bond can be requested.
Maximum bond amounts
In most cases, a bond cannot be more than one month’s rent.
A rental provider can only ask for a higher bond when either:
- the weekly rent for the property is more than $900
- VCAT has set a higher bond for the property. They might do this because of the character of the property or the quality of the fittings and furniture.
There is no rule about maximum bond in these cases.
Before March 2020, rental providers could also ask for a higher bond if they planned to live in a property at the end of the agreement. This does not apply to agreements signed after March 2020.
There are different rules for people living in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.
Maximum bond amount for rooming house residents
For residents in rooming houses, the maximum amount of bond depends on the type of agreement they have.
- The bond cannot be more than 28 days’ rent for residents on a fixed term rooming house agreement.
- The bond cannot be more than 14 days’ rent for residents who are not on fixed term agreements.
A rooming house is a property where 4 or more people can occupy the rooms. It is different to a share house because every resident has an individual agreement with the rooming house operator.
Maximum bond amount for caravan park residents
The bond cannot be more than one month’s rent or hiring charge in a caravan park.
A park owner cannot ask for a bond unless the parties have a written residency agreement.
Someone renting a caravan and a site separately may have to pay two bonds: one for the caravan and one for the site.
Maximum bond amount for part 4A park residents who own their moveable dwelling
The bond for site tenants cannot be more than the equivalent of one month’s rent if the rent is $900 a week or less.
A site tenant is someone who owns a moveable dwelling and rents a site for it in the caravan park or residential park they live in. A movable dwelling is also called a manufactured home or relocatable home.
How and when bonds are paid
The law does not state a timeframe for when to pay bond, but most rental providers will ask for it before renters move in. The rental provider may give the renter a notice to vacate if they do not pay the bond as required under the agreement.
During a rental agreement, bonds are held by the RTBA, an independent government body. Bonds are held in trust so that renters and rental providers have equal say in how bonds should be repaid at the end of a rental agreement.
First, renters pay bond to the rental provider. Then, rental providers must lodge the bond with the RTBA.
If a rental provider asks for a bond, they must give the renter 2 copies of the condition report (or 1 electronic copy) before they move in. The renter should check the condition report and must return it to the rental provider within 5 business days of moving in.
There are rules about what happens to the bond after the renter has paid:
- The rental provider must lodge the bond with the RTBA within 10 business days of receiving it.
- The RTBA must give a receipt with the bond ID number to the rental provider and renter within 7 days.
In a sub-let, the head renter needs to manage the bond. Read more about sub-lets.
Find out more about condition reports or the process of lodging the bond.
Proof the bond has been lodged
Renters will receive a bond receipt from the RTBA once the bond has been lodged.
The bond receipt has the bond ID number. It is important to keep this because it can be used to search RTBA Online to view or change bond details.
The bond receipt will usually be sent by email.
- If the renter did not give an email address, the receipt will be sent by mail.
- Rental providers will only get a receipt if they ask for one.
- Property managers can only receive a receipt via email.
A bond receipt will be emailed when the bond is paid.. If renters have not received a bond receipt within 15 business days of paying a bond, they should call the RTBA on 1300 137 164. If renters know their bond number, they can go to RTBA Online and search for their bond. A ‘bond summary’ will appear which can be used as their receipt.
Rental providers and property managers can register on RTBA Online to manage bonds registered to them. Renters do not need to register to view their bond or update their contact details.
Find out how to lodge a bond with the RTBA or how to claim a bond at the end of a rental agreement.
Managing bond payments in share houses
The RTBA can only pay out a bond at the end of a rental agreement. Everyone named on a rental agreement will need to sign the bond claim form.
When renters move in and out of a share house they need to transfer the names on the rental agreement with the rental provider. Then the rental provider must transfer the bond with the RTBA.
When extra bond can be requested
Rental providers can only ask for extra bond in a long term agreement or when renters ask to make changes to a property. This is called a bond top-up.
Additional bond when renters make changes to a property is called a ‘modification bond’. This can be included as part of the bond that is paid when a renter moves in, or be paid later.
Sections of the Act
If you want to know what the law says about bond amounts and payments, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:
- Part 2 – Division 2 – Bonds
- Part 10 – Bonds and the Residential Tenancies Bonds Authority.