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The bond

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What is it?
The bond is paid as cover for the property against losses incurred by the landlord and/or the managing agent. It is also quite handy for any landlord or agent that has multiple properties, since they can earn quite a bit of interest on the bond without the money ever really being theirs.

The losses or expenses that the landlord or agent may incur for which your bond provides cover include those caused by:

  • Damaged items.

  • Accidentally disappearing items or deliberate removal of property.

  • Outstanding debts attached to the property.

  • Failure to carry out your obligations as a tenant as set out in your tenancy agreement. In other words, if you don't treat the property as you are supposed to or leave it in the state agreed, then you will be liable for any costs involved in ensuring that the property meets those standards. This often includes things like cleaning windows and carpets.

  • Non-payment of rent. Some people forgo deposit and don't make their rent payment in their last month of occupancy of a property. You should not do this. If you fail to pay rent, you will almost certainly be in breach of your tenancy agreement and therefore could find that you have lost the bond and are still liable for the rent you didn't pay.

How much will I have to pay?
Bonds can be for anything from 4 to 8 weeks' worth of rent. The sum demanded can also be a strange unconnected amount. There are no rules governing how much of a deposit a landlord is entitled to ask for.

Some people are required to pay an extra months rent as well as a bond if they can't get a guarantor. Make sure that this is documented at the commencement of the tenancy and also keep a receipt. Details of this sort of thing should be added into the tenancy agreement.

You will normally also be asked to pay some rent up front. This is not part of the bond and is not always the case, but the landlord is likely to ask for one months' worth of rent in advance of you moving in. They can legally ask for as much as they want to.

How do I pay?
You normally need to have cleared funds to move in, which means making payment by cash, switch, building society cheque or banker's draft. Most of these methods automatically involve proof of payment, but you should also ask for a receipt, especially if you do pay cash.

Who keeps the bond?
Be clear who is holding the bond. It can be the landlord, but equally it can be the agent. Normally if there is an agent, the bond will be paid to them, but this is not always the case. Speak to them about it first and make sure that you get the process in writing. Many lettings agents collect the deposit on the landlord's behalf and then transfer the deposit directly to them or into a designated client's deposit account.

It is well worth checking who has the bond, as sometimes it can be news to the landlord as well. There are many cases of landlords accidentally spending the bond in the mistaken belief that the agent was holding it.

If property is sold when you are in it, the agent is required to tell you in writing. Make them also tell you in writing who is now holding your bond. This is often specified in the particulars of the sale, but is sometimes forgotten. You can end up with the landlord that was holding your bond no longer being in the country, which makes it tricky to get your money back.

How do I get the bond back?
Assuming that the property is left in much the same state as it was when you moved in, then you should get back your bond. If it is not in the same condition, you may end up forfeiting all or part of the bond money. Read our section on getting the bond back to find out how to make sure you don't miss out.

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