Commissioner's Blog: Rental bonds must be lodged on time
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With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
The Department of Commerce Bond Administrator figures showed 10 per cent of all residential rental bond lodgements were made late in January this year.
A bond is money paid by the tenant and held in trust for the duration of a tenancy. The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (the Act) requires that bonds must be lodged by the landlord or property manager with the Bond Administrator as soon as practicable, and in any event within 14 days of receiving it.
Tenants need to be aware that delays in lodging a bond can put these funds at risk.
At Consumer Protection we encourage tenants to be diligent about asking for and expecting a receipt immediately after paying a bond to a landlord or agent and an acknowledgement will be sent from the Bond Administrator once the bond has been lodged.
If you do not receive a receipt immediately or an acknowledgment that your bond has been lodged with the Bond Administrator within two weeks tenants are advised to contact Consumer Protection.
If it is a shared rental home, and more than one person has contributed to the bond, it is important the names of all the tenants appear on the lodgement form to protect everyone’s share.
During January, Consumer Protection issued 14 formal warnings and 3 infringement notices each for $2,000 for late bond lodgements made in December last year.
A single late bond lodgement is classed as a single offence. In this regard multiple infringement notices can be issued for each bond which is lodged late. However, on this occasion only single infringement notices were issued.
We are trying to get voluntary compliance in the first instance. We have written to agents to remind them of their obligations and will soon be writing to our database of private landlords.
However, if an owner or an agent does not take positive steps towards complying with the requirement to lodge the tenants bond within 14 days, then the Commissioner can consider whether prosecution is warranted if continued education and warnings are not having the desired impact on the practices of those handling tenancy bonds. The maximum penalty in the Magistrates Court for a single offence is $20,000.
Consumer Protection launched the handy iRentWA app in 2014 to help tenants navigate their way through the process of renting a home.
The app is available from Google Play or the App Store and has been downloaded more than 7400 times.
The app can easily calculate the maximum amount you might have to pay a landlord before moving in to a property, and can set reminders to help keep track of rent payment deadlines, routine inspections and keeping an eye out for your bond receipt.
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