After the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Australia declared the closing of their borders to contain the spread of the pandemic, leaving thousands of International students stranded and unable to return for their studies. Many of these students have agreed upon leases for their accommodation during their education term but were unable to return and carry out the lease. International students often suffer the disadvantages of language difficulties and are unfamiliar with the local laws to enforce their rights and obligations under the law.
A client, D, who is an international student in Tasmania who faced a problem regarding rental bonds. She had a verbal agreement with a sub-lessor to sublease a room prior to COVID-19, and prepaid her bond with the intention to sign the sub-lease once she was back in the country after her holidays. Once Australia declared the lockdown, she was unable to return to carry out the lease and had to cancel it. The Sub-lessor decided to keep the rental bond paid, citing damages for loss of rent and advertising costs. As the bond was not paid into the MyBonds System, she was unable to utilise official channels to reclaim the bond and was advised to negotiate with the lessor instead.
Rental bonds are usually paid to cover reasonable damages and cleaning costs caused by a tenant. Using this principle, we wrote a letter of demand to the sub-lessor to refund the rental bond, as the losses and damages suffered were not due to our client, but rather the unfortunate situation of COVID-19.
The Australian Government often stressed both landlords and tenants have suffered losses due to the pandemic, and there is no reason not to negotiate and compromise. Through our negotiations, we were able to help our client reclaim the rental bond, while offering the sub-lessor one week’s rent to mitigate their losses, leading to a mutually beneficial situation. In this situation, the client had the bravery to speak out and sought our help to correct her injustice, and was rewarded with a positive result.
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