Landlords reminded to lodge new bonds with Administrator
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Consumer Protection has reminded private landlords in WA that they must lodge new security bonds with the Bond Administrator to comply with changes to tenancy laws which came into effect in July this year.
There is a transition period for existing bonds, which will need to be transferred to the Bond Administrator by 31 December 2014.
The reminder comes after the Perth Magistrates Court fined a Port Hedland landlord $800 on 12 September 2013 for failing to lodge a tenant’s bond of $2,200 that had been collected in July 2010.
At that time, the landlord had to either lodge the money with the Bond Administrator or deposit it in a bank account with an approved financial institution in joint names with the tenant, neither of which occurred. The bond from the South Hedland property wasn’t returned to the tenant until earlier this month, more than two years later.
Apart from the $800 fine, the landlord, who was granted a spent conviction, was also ordered to pay court costs of $2,600.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the Residential Tenancies Act, which governs the handling of bond money, is designed to safeguard the interests of tenants.
“A security bond payment at the beginning of a tenancy represents a large amount of money for many people, so it is important that the funds are handled in a secure and transparent manner,” Ms Driscoll said.
“Bond money remains the property of the tenant until the end of the tenancy and it’s only then that the landlord can make reasonable claims against it with the agreement of the tenant.
“Changes to the law now require all new bonds to be lodged with the Bond Administrator at Consumer Protection immediately. Bonds on existing tenancies still being held in trust or other accounts will need to be lodged during the transition period, which finishes at the end of next year.
“The requirement that the Bond Administrator eventually holds all bonds in trust ensures that the money won’t be misappropriated and will help reduce the disputes that often arise between tenant and landlord over the return of the bond at the end of a tenancy.
“The fine for failing to lodge the tenant’s bond with the Bond Administrator has now been increased to $20,000 so it’s imperative that landlords or their agents become familiar with the changes to the law and take steps to comply.”
Real estate agents, property managers, landlords and tenants can find more information on bonds on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/tenancy or make enquiries by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 1300 30 40 54.
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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