Resolving bond issues and disputes

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There are different ways to deal with bond issues and disputes depending on the situation.

On this page:

Disputes about how to split the bond

Rental providers (landlords) can only submit a bond claim to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) when the renter and rental provider agree on how to split the bond.

If they cannot agree, either the renter or rental provider can apply to VCAT for a hearing. VCAT will hear the case and make a decision on how to divide the bond.

You should know:

  • There are no application fees for bond claim hearings.
  • An application for bond must be made within 14 days after the rental agreement has ended.

Rental providers may also apply to VCAT to claim compensation that is more than the bond amount. A fee will apply for this kind of application.

Making bond applications to VCAT

Application forms are available from the VCAT website or by calling 1300 01 8228 (1300 01 VCAT). Calling this number costs the same as a local call. More charges may apply if you call from overseas, on a mobile or payphone.

Once VCAT has made an order

Once VCAT has made an order, the rental provider or renter must submit a bond form to the RTBA. Bond claims that are subject to VCAT orders can be submitted electronically by rental providers who are registered for electronic transactions with RTBA Online. Otherwise rental providers and renters must use a paper form. 
 
Rental providers should register for electronic transactions using RTBA Online.

For claims submitted by paper, RTBA will match the signatures of all parties with the signatures on record on the bond lodgement or renter transfer forms. The RTBA will then pay the bond according to the VCAT order.

See our guide to claiming the bond for more details about the bond claim process.

Disputes between renters about how to split the bond

The RTBA does not manage the bond payments for renters moving in and out during an agreement. If a renter moves out during an agreement and needs to be repaid for the amount they contributed to the bond, they must make their own arrangements with the other renters for this to happen.

Bond disputes between renters cannot be resolved by VCAT.

When rental providers delay submitting claims

Once the renter and rental provider agree on how to divide the bond, rental providers should start the bond claim. They should do this within 14 business days of the agreement ending.

Renters have the right to make a claim themselves, but it takes longer to process than if the rental provider or property manager starts the claim. If the rental provider takes more than 14 business days, renters may apply directly to the RTBA.

When renters submit the bond claim form themselves:

  • The RTBA must notify rental providers of the claim in writing.
  • Rental providers then have 14 business days to tell the RTBA in writing about any VCAT proceedings about the bond.
  • If there are no proceedings then the RTBA will return the bond to the renter, or their portion of the bond if there is more than one renter.

See how renters can submit a bond claim form.

When a renter changes their name

If a renter changes their name during the rental agreement, it may not match the name that the RTBA has recorded on the bond.

If a renter has changed their name, generate a paper bond claim form on RTBA Online using the bond ID. Attach a copy of the marriage certificate or change of name certificate.

If someone cannot sign the bond claim form

If someone cannot be contacted to sign the bond claim form, then either the renter or rental provider can apply to VCAT for an order instructing the RTBA how to repay or transfer the bond.

Bond claims and family violence

There are rules that protect people experiencing family violence.

If VCAT is satisfied that someone is experiencing violence, they may order that:

  • the perpetrator of family violence must pay the rental provider for any loss or damage to the rental property
  • the share of the bond contributed by the person experiencing family violence cannot be used to compensate the rental provider.

See more information on changing the rental agreement because of family violence.

Renting law reforms

Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021. One of the major changes to the way bond issues and disputes are resolved is:

  • renters can now apply directly to the RTBA for repayment of the bond.

Some language also changed:

  • Landlords are now called rental providers
  • Tenants are now called renters
  • Leases are now called rental agreements.

You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.

Sections of the Act

If you want to know what the law says about bond disputes, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Section 411 – Claims for rental bonds
  • Section 411AD – Disputed bond claims
  • Section 419A – Person with interest in claim for bond may apply to Tribunal for bond repayment order