Darwin Community Legal Service

Security Deposits (bonds)

What is a Bond?
You may be asked to pay the landlord a Bond, also known as a security deposit, at the start of the tenancy. A bond is money you pay to a landlord at the start of your tenancy as financial protection in case you breach the lease agreement. The money is held on trust by your landlord or agent until the end of your tenancy to cover any damage you cause, rent or bills you haven’t paid or any other costs that you are required to pay for under the law. .

TIP: The landlord is not allowed to spend your bond unless authorised under the law.


Paying a Bond

How much do I need to pay?
The maximum bond amount a landlord can ask for is an amount equal to 4 weeks rent. So if you pay $300 a week in rent, your bond can not be more than $1200. After you pay your bond, your landlord must give you a receipt specifying:

  • the date the money was received; and
  • your name or the name of whoever paid your bond for you; and
  • the amount paid; and
  • the address of the property you are moving into


I have a pet; can the landlord ask for extra Bond?
No, the landlord can not ask or write in your tenancy agreement that you need to pay extra if you have a pet. Under the law, it is illegal to ask the tenant to pay more than 4 weeks rent.


If you are living with another person who also pays rent, generally you will each pay your bond in equal portions. So if you live with 1 other person and your bond is $1000, you will each pay $500.

At the end of your tenancy, you must each be given back your bond in equal portions, unless there is an agreement otherwise.


I cannot afford to pay my bond
If you don’t have enough money to pay your bond, you can:

  • Ask the Department of Housing about an interest free loan called Bond assistance; or
  • Ask your landlord if you can pay your bond in instalments. If your landlord agrees, you should write down the agreement and have it signed by you and your landlord.


Can my Landlord increase my bond?
Yes, if your landlord notifies you of a rent increase, they can also ask you to pay an increase in your bond. Your landlord can only do this if:

  • Your rent is validly increased (see the DCLS factsheet ‘Rent Increases and Rent Reductions’); and
  • You receive a written notice of the increase in your bond; and
  • It has been two years since the bond was last paid or increased under the tenancy agreement.


Where is my bond?
You can write to your landlord and ask for details of where your bond is held. If you do, your landlord must provide you with a statement outlining:

  • The name of the account;
  • Whether or not the account is held by a Real Estate agent; or if not
  • The name of the financial institution where the account is held including the interest rate;
  • The day the Bond was paid into the account;
  • The amount paid.


I want my bond back
Your landlord can keep part or all of your bond to:

  • Repair damage, other than damage caused as a result of fair wear and tear or domestic violence;
  • Replace property lost or destroyed by you or your visitors;
  • Clean the property if it has not been left in a reasonably clean condition;
  • Replace locks that have been changed, removed or added without the Landlord’s consent; and
  • Cover unpaid rent, electricity, gas or water charges that you owe.

Your landlord cannot keep your bond to repair damage, replace property or clean the house unless you have accepted the outgoing condition report and given the keys back (see the DCLS factsheet ‘Condition Reports’).

If your landlord wants to keep all of your bond, they must give you an RT08 notice within 7 business days of the end of your tenancy. The RT08 notice must tell you the reasons why the landlord thinks they can keep your bond and must include quotes for any cleaning and repairs. Any portion of your bond the landlord is not claiming must be returned to you. If your landlord does not give you an RT08 notice within 7 business days of you moving out, they must give you your bond back.


I disagree with the landlord keeping my bond, what can I do?
If your landlord isn’t giving your bond back or you disagree with their reasons, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Generally, the first step is for you to send a letter to your landlord asking for the bond back and stating the reasons why (see Template letters). If that does not work, you can make an application to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal for the return of part or all of your bond (see Going to NTCAT)


Darwin Community Legal Service 2019: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2019.