We weren’t going to get our bond back until I put up a fight

Everyone knows the struggle and pain of renting and real estate agents. It’s stressful, you’re navigating a very foreign and ‘grown up’ world, and at the end of the day you just want somewhere to live. But I never thought that moving out of a rental would be the hardest part – yes, I’m referring to the bond.

Early this year when our lease came to an end, we went through the typical end of lease proceedings and cleaned the house like crazy! Unfortunately, due to our naivety, the real estate’s attempt to exploit and abuse us (and the system) ended up in a 9 month case with the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).I didn’t want to do it – hell at one point I wanted to cop the loss of our bond and be done with it – but we fought hard and looking back, I’m bloody glad we did.
Here are some things I learned going through the shittiest adult thing EVER:

Take photos. Take photos. Take photos.

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One thing I wish I did more of throughout this whole situation was to TAKE PHOTOS! Print them out so they’re ready. Make sure there’s a date stamp otherwise it can be argued it was taken at a different time. Take photos of things you didn’t even know you had to take photos of. You will never regret taking too many photos when moving out, especially if it comes to a contentious end, as was the case with us.
Be organised

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Going through this kind of procedure is incredibly complex and quite demanding in regard to the evidence and paperwork you need to provide. Being organised is absolutely key! Photocopy everything, print every photo, email, quote, invoice and text message and group them together.

You need to allow the evidence to speak for itself and the only way to make sure you’re speaking clearly is to have your shit organised. So, whatever it is you’re going through, being organised will put you on the path to speak like the eloquent millennial you are.

Know your rights and what you are entitled to

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This may sound obvious, but have you ever stopped to look up your rights as tenants? I hadn’t prior to this experience. So we familiarised ourselves with the NSW Fair Trading website and sought information from various sources. Being able to reference specific acts or policies to support your case is incredibly valuable. It’s also important to make sure you are well informed so that you can take ownership of your dispute and feel empowered by your knowledge.

Fight for what is right

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The only reason we ended up going through this whole process was because we felt we were treated unfairly. This big organisation was trying to defame our character. I found the way they treated us disrespectful and insulting and I wasn’t going to tolerate it. The way in which I was spoken to was appalling; I wanted to stand up for myself and for my friends.

In the end, it wasn’t about the bond money. We’d committed hours of our time, sleep and energy into this. We would’ve been financially better off if we let them walk all over us with the amount of time we had to take off work. It was about sticking up for ourselves and saying that we will not be taken advantage off. And guess what? It paid off.

As much as this experience sucked, it was definitely an experience that has taught me a lot. The world and the people in it are not always kind, and some people will try to take advantage of you. But your kindness, understanding, organisation, determination and strength will skyrocket you past those losers. Kill them with kindness and show ‘em who’s boss.

Plus you may find the ABC’s article on getting your bond back very interesting (I sure did!).

This is an edited version of an article that has previously appeared on  Twenty Something Humans and A Wordly Addiction.