Tougher action planned for lodging tenancy bonds late
Consumer Protection is planning to take tougher action against real estate agents and private landlords with an increasing number of tenancy bonds being lodged late.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, bonds must be lodged with the Bond Administrator as soon as practicable or within 14 days after the funds are received.
However, in the three months prior to 31 October 2016 there were as many as 945 bonds lodged by real estate agents and a further 758 bonds lodged by private landlords that were received after the 14 day cut-off.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the extremely high and growing number of late lodgements is unacceptable.
“There were a significant percentage of these late bonds which took more than three months to lodge. The worst case took more than six months, which is alarming,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Overall the number of late lodgements have more than doubled in the past three years and this is despite a ten per cent decrease in the overall number of bonds being collected. This trend cannot continue and Consumer Protection will be taking decisive action to target offenders and improve compliance with the law.
“In the first instance, Consumer Protection will be sending educational letters and formal warnings to offenders. However, those who ignore these warnings and continue to lodge bonds late may be issued with an infringement notice amounting to a $2,000 penalty. In more serious cases people could face prosecution or disciplinary action where they may have to pay a fine of up to $20,000.
“Licensed real estate agents could also be putting their licence, and ultimately their livelihood, in jeopardy if there are serious and continuing violations of this important aspect of tenancy law.
“Bond money is held securely in trust by the Bond Administrator and any delay in depositing these funds may put them at risk. There is absolutely no reason why bond money cannot be lodged within the 14 day period or sooner, especially since the new Bonds Online eTransactions system has become available to all agents.
“I urge real estate agents to review their current procedures to ensure their bond processing practices are in line with their legal obligations. I also caution private landlords that they too need to be aware of the requirements, otherwise they may suffer serious consequences.”
More information on tenancy bonds is available on the Consumer Protection website http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/bonds or enquiries can be made by email email@example.com or by phone 1300 30 40 54.
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