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ACT No Lease Signed - Can I Get Rental Deposit Back?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Max6296, 21 June 2015.

  1. Max6296

    Max6296 Active Member

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    Hi,
    I recently moved into a boarding house. When I first came to the house two weeks prior to the date I moved in to take a look, the owner of the house showed me a room. I was satisfied with the room, so I said I'd like to move in. So, after two weeks, I came back with all my stuff to move in. But when I arrived, he said the room is no longer available and he gave me a different room. He didn't tell me anything about that until the very moment I arrived. So I stayed because I had nowhere else to go.

    I noticed on my first day that my roommate (it is a twin room) snores really bad. I tried to endure it for a week, but I realized I couldn't. So I asked the owner of the house a solution, but he gave me none. So I told him that I wish to move out. Then he told me I have to live at least two months to get my deposit back, which I never heard before nor did he specified on his advertisement. So, I am being kind of forced to live in this house, suffering every night, for ten days now because not getting my deposit back will be a huge financial damage for me (It is around $400. I know it is small, but for me, it is not). I desperately want to move into another place like right now, but he wouldn't give my deposit back to me.

    So here is the question: Is there any way under property law to get my deposit back even if I move out before two months?

    P.S. I didn’t write any document (like a lease).
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Max,

    I'm sorry to hear about the situation you're in. I hope to be able to help you but first I need some more information from you:
    - When you say "rental deposit", are you referring to the bond?
    - If so, has your landlord lodged your bond with the ACT Office of Rental Bonds?
    - Did you originally agree to move into a twin room or was the original room one that you would have by yourself?
    - How different is the room that you are staying in to the one that you originally saw?

    Also, you don't have to answer this if you would prefer not to, but are you a student?

    As an aside: there are decent services to support renters in the ACT. For example the tenants Union at Havelock House in the city. Tenants' Union ACT Inc. - Home
     
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  3. Max6296

    Max6296 Active Member

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    - Yes. It is the bond.
    - I don't know. He didn't tell me anything about that.
    - Yes. I originally agreed to move into a twin room.
    - Structurally not very different but has a different roommate.

    Yes. I am an international student from Korea. They are Korean too.

    I'm leaving my first reply undeleted becuase I can't seem to delete it. Please understand.
     
  4. Max6296

    Max6296 Active Member

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    If he didn't what happens? (I don't think he did)
     
  5. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Max,

    I just wrote out a long response to you and then lost it!

    It sounds as though you are an occupant rather than a tenant. This means that the normal tenancy laws don't apply and your landlord is not obligated to lodge your bond (or deposit) with the Office of Rental Bonds.

    The terms of an occupancy agreement are usually determined between the parties in the form of a written contract (within reason!). However since you said you don't have a written contract, the terms of the occupancy agreement would be what you agreed to orally (or impliedly because you were aware of the term before you moved in such as for example by reading the advertisement). I think that your landlord would have a hard time enforcing a term of the occupancy that you didn't know about and couldn't have reasonably known about.

    The first step for you is to seek legal advice. There are a few (free!) options. Firstly there is the Tenancy Advice Service (TAS) run by the ACT Tenancy Union. They are understaffed and so have limited calling hours. You can find out how to get in touch with them here: Tenants' Union ACT Inc. - Tenants' Advice Service

    Secondly, if you are a student at ANU, there is a free legal advice service for students run by ANUSA: Legal | Australian National University Students' Association Inc
    If you are a student at another institution, you should see whether their student association offers a legal advice service.

    After you have spoken with either TAS or another legal service, you may need to apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get your deposit back (if your landlord isn't complying with their legal obligations).

    Finally, are you aware of your options for student accommodation? Obviously there is on campus student housing offered by several academic institutions and private renting, however there is also the Canberra Student Housing Co-operative which offers a more affordable option for students. You can find more information about them here: Canberra Student Housing Co-op - Students for sustainable, communal, affordable and secure living It doesn't look as though they have updated their website for applications recently, so get in contact with them to see if they have (or expect to have) upcoming vacancies.
     
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  6. Max6296

    Max6296 Active Member

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    Thanks it helped a lot!
     

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