Landlord's security deposit scam beaten by savvy tenant who filmed their spotless apartment before leaving

Exactly the system we have in NSW, Australia. The bond, as it’s called, is stored with a government body called NSW Fair Trading. If the landlord thinks the place needs $400 worth of cleaning when you move out, then:

You [the tenant - ed] can still make a claim if you disagree about the amount of bond to be returned to you. Fill in the form with the amount that you want paid. You do not need the landlord’s/agent’s signature. Return the form to Fair Trading.
Fair Trading will give the landlord/agent written notice that you have made a claim. If the landlord/agent does not dispute it, Fair Trading will pay your claim after 14 days.
If the landlord/agent does dispute your claim, they must apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) within 14 days of receiving the notice and tell Fair Trading in writing that they have done so.
The Tribunal will decide how the bond will be paid out.

source - Tenants’ Union of NSW

ETA: the system, like any system, can be gamed by one side, but they seem to be at least trying to get some sort of impartiality and balance.


It’s shocking and frustrating that security deposits have been left to the honour system for this long in a business relationship with a 90/10 power imbalance. Lawmakers probably think about it as a small amount of money, but in big cities, with security and (where legal) first and last month’s rent, deposits of $6000+ are not uncommon. That’s almost house-down-payment money in some rural places.

Canada still has the old fashioned honour system, but most provinces at least have sensible limits on how big the deposit can be (generally limited to half one month’s rent). There are also strict rules about what can’t be deducted for, such as pets, storage, parking, new keys, etc.

All my bad experiences with renting were all in California, which ironically probably has the most pro-tenant renting laws in the US. It’s a low bar there.


The best part was having to sign it so I could move internationally.
What was I going to do? Just not have someplace to live?

There’s zero way to negotiate it, especially since the TAA ensures that allllll the landlords use the same script.

Edit: worth noting that Australia actually has tenant boards for disputing the clawback of security deposits. You apparently almost always get the deposit back, because you have to have done something heinous to justify its withholding. You have an immediate remedy if you’re scammed.

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Our landlords are ok, but the letting agency? Pure scum.
The really fucked up part is how hard the agency is trying to screw over our landlords, as well as us tenants.
Our landlords have decided to sell up (fair enough, they bought the place for £120k in 2001, it’s now worth £700k+), and they very nicely gave us a years notice. One of our flatmates moved out, and mostly due to the letting agency making life difficult, it seemed to be almost impossible to find someone to move in for the limited time we have left. The landlords decided (kindly imo), to make everyone’s lives easier, they’d rent it to just the three of us, at 3/4 rent. The agency said “No”, I’m not sure how they made that stick, but the landlords are unable/unwilling to fight them, so the current system for our last few months in the property have us paying 3/4 of the rent, and the landlords paying the remaining 1/4 to the agency. Yes, our landlords are paying part of our rent, effectively to themselves, minus they agency’s cut of course.

This is the same letting agency who charged us an illegal fee to change a name on the contract (they eventually paid it back, just before Trading Standards caught up with them).

So, steer clear of this lot, or any of the estate agents they own:

Oh yeah, on topic; we’re expecting them to try to screw us on our deposit, so we will, of course, be cleaning, and then meticulously documenting the state we leave the house in. Hopefully we can also get the landlords to weigh in. They’re about to make half a million quid, )and I personally probably paid off the mortgage on that place for them years ago.) They should be pretty friendly.


There’s a doc from the department for housing, and whatever other acronyms they currently have, on valid deductions from security. One of the best bits is on reasonable wear and tear. Even if you completely trashed the carpets, if they were installed 10 years ago with an expected lifespan of 10 years the value of them is £0. Similarly 50% at half the lifespan, and so on.


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