Landlord fined for illegal entry in a tenancy database (Tomas Mijatovic / TRM Property Services)
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A Joondanna landlord, who also manages his family’s properties, has been fined a total of $5,500 and ordered to pay $9,000 in costs after making an illegal entry into a tenancy database and failing to properly process bond payments received from tenants.
Tomas Mijatovic, trading as TRM Property Services, was found guilty by the Perth Magistrates Court on 8 September 2016 of two charges relating to the database entry and five charges relating to the handling of security bonds.
In July 2013 Mr Mijatovic listed a tenant on the TICA tenancy database, a resource used by landlords and agents to determine the suitability of applicants for rental properties. However, it wasn’t until November 2013 that Mr Mijatovic and the tenant came to an agreement to terminate the tenancy.
Mr Mijatovic also failed to advise the tenant or supply details of the information to be posted on TICA prior to the listing.
It is an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) to list a tenant’s personal details on a residential tenancy database before the tenancy has ended. Also, tenants must be advised prior to listing and be given 14 days to object or make a submission about the accuracy, completeness or clarity of the information.
Between May 2012 and September 2014, Mr Mijatovic collected a total of $9,000 in security bonds from five tenants in Joondanna either as a private landlord or as a property manager. This money was deposited and had remained in a bank account that Mr Mijatovic controlled, in breach of tenancy laws. The tenants had difficulty in obtaining the return of their security bond at the end of their tenancies.
Prior to July 2013, bonds had to be lodged either with the Bond Administrator or placed in a financial institution trust account in the name of the tenant and the owner. Amendments to the RTA now require all bonds to be lodged with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of receipt.
In the same case, White City Investments Pty Ltd, of which Mr Mijatovic is a director, was fined $1,200 and ordered to pay costs of $1,500 on two charges, one for not providing tenants with a written residential tenancy agreement in a prescribed form as required by the RTA, and the other for failing to lodge a bond with the Bond Administrator as soon as practicable after the tenancy agreement was signed.
On 26 May 2016, the Perth Magistrates Court ordered White City Investments Pty Ltd to pay a fine of $500 and costs of $1,498 after the company pleaded guilty to four charges of failing to provide tenants with a written residential tenancy agreement in a prescribed form.
On 23 October 2015, the Perth Magistrates Court imposed a fine of $500 against Trend City Investments Pty Ltd, for providing out-dated tenancy agreements and tenant information forms. The company was ordered to pay costs of $607. Mr Mijatovic was previously a director of this company.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the breaches of tenancy law by Mr Mijatovic and his related companies were serious, particularly in regard to placing a tenant on a database.
“A tenant whose name appears on tenancy databases may have major problems securing a tenancy in the future, so it’s vital that the information available to other landlords or their agents is accurate and fair,” Mr Hillyard said.
“For that reason, the law requires the tenant be provided with the information prior to posting on the database and given an opportunity to challenge the accuracy or fairness of the proposed listing.
“In this case, the tenant was denied the opportunity to challenge the listing and their rights were ignored. Landlords, property managers and real estate agents should be well aware of the laws applying to tenancy databases and ensure that they comply in all circumstances.”
More information about tenants’ rights and landlord/agent obligations with regard to tenancy databases is available online at http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/tenancy-databases - or enquiries can be made by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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