$1.5 million in unclaimed security bonds - Tenants bulletin issue 3
7 February 2019
Security bonds - did you know?
A security bond is a payment made in advance by a tenant to cover any damages or outstanding bills that may arise during a tenancy. As such, bond monies are required to be held in trust until the tenancy ends and agreement is reached between the parties as to how it will be paid out. Where parties can’t agree, a court order is required.
In Western Australia, all bond monies are required to be held in trust by the Bond Administrator at Consumer Protection.
Real estate agents use an electronic system called BondsOnline eTransactions to lodge, vary and release bond money. Private lessors use paper forms. With both of these processes, tenants are required to confirm the details of the lodgement.
Once lodged, the Bond Administrator will only release the bond money if all parties to the tenancy agree on the disbursements or there is a court order from a Magistrates Court.
Has your bond been lodged?
When your residential tenancy bond is lodged, the Bond Administrator will send you a Record of Payment of Security Bond to confirm the bond was lodged correctly.
If you paid a bond and didn’t receive confirmation of the bond being lodged with the Bond Administrator, you can check by contacting Consumer Protection by email or on 1300 853 829.
Changes during the tenancy
It’s important to make sure the Bond Administrator is kept up to date if the details of the parties for a bond change. Anyone recorded as a tenant, lessor or agent on the bond will need to approve the release of the bond at the end of the tenancy. If they cannot be contacted, a court order will be required to have the bond paid out. This may cause delays in getting the bond money released.
Tenants only need to approve variations if they are being removed or added to the bond. Each tenant should receive a Record of Variation of Security Bond to confirm any changes.
A Variation of Security Bond form (or eTransaction) is used to lodge extra bond amounts if the rent goes up, or to let the Bond Administrator know if there are any changes to the tenants, owner or agent.
At the end of the tenancy
Once your tenancy has ended, the disbursement (return) of your bond monies can be determined.
The lessor or property manager will inspect the property and determine how much, if any, money they intend to claim from the bond for things like repairs or cleaning of the property. If everyone who is a party to the bond lodgement agrees on who the bond monies should be paid to the property manager will initiate an eTransaction or a private lessor will arrange a disposal application form for the all tenants to approve. If you are receiving any money back, you will also need to provide bank account details at this point. The Bond Administrator can then pay each person directly by electronic transfer.
If there is a disagreement about who the bond money should be paid out to, a court order will be required. Either the tenant or the lessor can make an application to the Magistrates Court. For more information about the process visit the Magistrates Court website or call 9425 2222.
Property Condition Reports
In determining any claim from a bond at the end of a tenancy, a lessor or property manager will complete a final Property Condition Report and compare it to the Property Condition Report completed at the commencement of the tenancy. So carefully completing the Property Condition Report at the start of the tenancy will help ensure that there are no disagreements as to the condition of the property when you moved in. This may assist in you getting back as much of your bond money as possible. If you missed it, be sure to read our previous bulletin on Property Condition Reports.
Bond Assistance Loan Scheme
Did you get bond assistance from the Department of Communities?
Consumer Protection conducted a data matching exercise with the Department of Communities that has revealed a large number of bonds that were funded through that department’s Bond Assistance Loan Scheme have not been lodged with the Bond Administrator.
The Department of Communities’ Bond Assistance Loan Scheme provides interest-free loans to help people find housing in the private rental market. The payment is sent directly to the lessor or property manager but they are then required to lodge the bond with the Bond Administrator at Consumer Protection within 14 days.
If you have not received confirmation of your bond being lodged with the Bond Administrator, you can check by contacting Consumer Protection by email or on 1300 853 829.
Search for unclaimed money on the Treasury website
Consumer Protection is urging tenants and landlords in WA to check for unclaimed bond money amounting to a total of almost $1.5 million. The bond money relates to 4,887 tenancies that ended between January 2007 and December 2010.
The funds, which were held by the Bond Administrator, have been provided to Treasury for listing on their website. So people who believe they may be owed bond money can confirm by doing a quick check on the Treasury website.
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