Our Experts Answer:
The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not prescribe the length of time that a landlord and tenant have to complete and submit a bond refund form at the conclusion of a tenancy. On receipt of a completed bond refund form signed by both parties that clearly shows how the bond is to be refunded, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (the Ministry) aims to disburse the funds within three working days. Section 31 of the Act states that upon termination of the tenancy any over payment of rent shall be recoverable by a tenant immediately. If this cannot be negotiated, the Tenancy Tribunal has the jurisdiction to order a landlord to return this to the tenant. Either party can submit a bond refund form signed without the other parties’ signature seeking the refund of the bond. When such a form is received that meets the requirements set out in section 22A of the Act, the Ministry will contact the other party seeking their approval to pay the bond. If the other party agrees to the amounts claimed, the Ministry will proceed with the refund. If they dispute the amounts claimed, the bond will be placed into dispute and will only be refunded on receipt of a fully completed bond refund form as noted above or by order of the Tenancy Tribunal. If the Ministry receives no response within 10 working days of the other party being notified of your application the Ministry will refund the bond in accordance with the bond refund application received. This is referred to as the ‘one-party claim’ process. Similarly, if a landlord and tenant cannot agree on how the bond is to be refunded at the end of the tenancy, the party claiming the bond, or a portion of the bond, can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal seeking an order for the return of the bond. Where there is a dispute regarding a bond, we recommend that parties contact our bond advice line (0800 737 666) to ensure their contact details are updated, and to ensure they receive any information regarding their bond even after the tenancy has ended. To discuss your situation further, or for further information regarding bond disputes, the recovery of overpaid rent, or the Tenancy Tribunal process, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (www.tenancy.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).