Most people might think this is easy, but if you do it wrong, your landlord might not give you back your security deposit or, even worse, they might extend your lease without your permission as per the residential tenancy agreement and keep your rental bond to pay the rent as per the residential tenancy act.
Handing back the keys is likely to be the most frustrating part of a tenancy, since both parties have a lot to lose if it’s done wrong as per the residential tenancy regulation.
We have already gone over in detail how to end a lease agreement in Australia in a legal way. Again, we want to stress that you can’t end a lease agreement by talking, calling, sending an email address, a text message, a WhatsApp message, posting a message on social media, etc. It must be done in a formal way that follows the law. If you do this wrong, as the renter, it will hurt you legally and financially.
Formally ending the contract is the only way to get your rental deposit back and to avoid the scary silent renewals that can add more years to your lease in Australia if you’re not careful after you move into the property.
When you give your landlord written notice that you are moving out, there will be a set day and time for you to return the keys. This is usually the last day that your rental contract says you have to leave the property as per the condition report when you entered.
Your landlord or their representative, who is usually an estate agent, will be there to give you the keys and take them back in a fixed term lease agreement for common properties.
You Need to Make Sure the Following Bullet Points Are Done Right:
If the property was rented with furniture, you must go through the whole house with the agent, unless you already had a furniture inventory as an addendum to the contract.
This means checking each appliance in the house and kitchen, like the A/C, washing machine, pool pump, fridge, dryer, etc., over and over again to make sure they all work well. If everything is fine, you and the agent will sign each page to show that everything was returned in good working order.
You need to put a date on this document and include the agent’s ID (DNI if Spanish, or passport number if a foreigner).
As a renter, you usually have to pay for things like water, electricity, Wi-Fi, gas, etc. You need to make sure that all of these bills have been paid and are current. Again, this is so the landlord doesn’t keep some of your security deposit because you didn’t pay your bills.
The agent must sign the copies you give them, and you should keep these for your own records. If you owe money, you will need to talk about how to pay it.
The keys and any copies must be returned to the landlord or their agent that same day. You can’t keep them away. If you do, you haven’t legally given up possession, which could have serious legal consequences. dirt2tidy
People who say they are too busy that day and want you to leave the keys under a door or in a mailbox should be avoided. There will be no proof at all in court that you returned the keys.
Both of you need to sign a paper saying that the keys were returned on a certain date, and you both need to sign it. This will be proof that can’t be argued with if the landlord tries to dispute it later.
We strongly recommend that a legal document be written with several clauses that cover all of the above-mentioned points. Each page of the document must be dated and signed by both parties.
Regular Wear and Tear
If everything is returned in good working order and the landlord or their representative did not find any problems (like damage to the property) and signed the paperwork, there will be no reason for the landlord not to return your one or two-month deposit in full as soon as possible, depending on the contract you signed.
After you give the keys back to the landlord, they only have 30 days to return it. If it takes longer than that, it’s likely that your landlord is stalling to keep your deposit for themselves, and you’ll have to hire a lawyer to sue them. You’ll need to give the law firm a copy of the signed papers and the list of items.
Some landlords are known for keeping tenants’ deposits and only telling them they won’t give them back after the tenant has moved out of the country. You should look at what other renters say on social media and be on the lookout for bad landlords to avoid.
What Happens If the Landlord Won’t Take the Keys Back?
Strangely enough, this happens a lot. A landlord might do this if they want to make you pay them more money or if they don’t agree with you breaking the contract. Apply to the NSW civil and administration tribunal or NSW fair trading within 14 days.
When this happens, you can leave the keys with a Notary Public if you are sure that you have the legal right to end a lease. By doing this, you’ll have proof in court that you kept your end of the deal and returned the keys on time, as required by the contract.
Then, the Notary will have to give the keys back to the landlord. It will be clear that the landlord broke the contract, and the judge will take that into account if a legal procedure is started in court to end the contract and get back the deposit.
Basically, what you’re doing is preparing legal evidence that will be used against your landlord later to show that they acted in bad faith (needless to say, it can also be used as leverage to negotiate a more favorable outcome and avoid a court case).