Commissioner's Blog: Court case highlights landlord obligations
With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Court case highlights landlord obligations
A recent court case has highlighted the need for private landlords in WA, as well as real estate agents and property managers, to be aware of their obligations under tenancy laws and to comply with them.
In the case, Bozena Sakowski was fined $7,200 by the Perth Magistrates Court after she pleaded guilty to 24 breaches of tenancy laws when acting as a landlord.
The charges related to failing to lodge security bond with the Bond Administrator, failure to provide receipts for the bond, failure to use the correct forms and information when entering into a written tenancy agreement and failure to provide property condition reports at the start and end of a tenancy.
Ms Sakowski took bond money in cash and kept it in her safe or had it deposited directly into her bank account. This is illegal.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, all security bonds on rental properties must be lodged with the bond administrator at the Department of Commerce within 14 days and within a month tenants will receive a confirmation that their bond has been lodged. If this does not occur, tenants should check with their landlord/agent and contact the Bond Administrator.
Standard lease agreements were introduced in 2013 to ensure fairness in the rental market and to provide clarity about the rights and obligations of both tenants and landlords. Tenants must be given a copy of the prescribed information which outlines the different avenues for resolving disputes.
Mrs Sakowski also used a 2005 REIWA tenancy agreement form and created her own lease agreement, which included improper conditions, such as no children being allowed to visit the property.
The completion of a property condition report is compulsory under tenancy law. Failure to provide this report puts tenants in a position where they could not verify that damage to the property existed prior to them moving in.
I encourage anyone who rents out a property in WA to learn about their rights and responsibilities by reviewing Consumer Protection’s webpages and videos, at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/tenancy. The forms to use are available to download and use at no cost.
Further information on bonds is available on the Consumer Protection website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/bonds. Security bond lodgement forms can be downloaded or submitted online. Tenants can check their bond has been lodged by contacting the bond administrator by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 583 829.
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