The tenant is generally required to pay a bond (also known as security deposit or rental bond). This is paid by the tenant before moving into the house or flat. The bond is calculated by reference to the weekly rent. Where the rent does not exceed $250 per week, the maximum bond is four weeks rent. However, where the weekly rent is more than $250, the maximum bond is the equivalent of six weeks rent [see Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 61(3)]. A landlord who breaches these requirements may be fined up to $5 000 [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 61].
All bonds paid in relation to premises in South Australia must be lodged with, and are held by, the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs [s 62]. They provide security against:
- the tenant being in arrears of rent; or
- any damage done to the premises by the tenant; or
- the premises not being left reasonably clean; or
- other losses which are the tenant's responsibility.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to lodge the security bond with the Commissioner within two weeks (registered agents have up to 4 weeks) [see Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 (SA) r 9]. Once a bond has been lodged a landlord can ask a tenant to increase this bond by giving 60 days notice, but only at two yearly intervals and it cannot be increased beyond the ceiling referred to above.
When bond money is paid the landlord or real estate agent must provide a receipt within 48 hours [s 62]. The tenant must also sign a form which the landlord or real estate agent must send with the bond money to the Commissioner. After the Commissioner has received the money and the properly signed form, a bond number and receipt are sent to the tenant. If this number is not received within a reasonable time it is possible that the bond money has not been lodged and Consumer and Business Services should be notified immediately.
There is now an online facility called Residential bonds online through which registered agents, landlords and tenants can check the status of their bond.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.