Paying rent and additional charges
Tenants cannot be asked to pay any additional money other than rent and security bond during a tenancy agreement. The lessor cannot ask tenant/s to pay any administration fees, re-inspection fees or charges for sending tenant/s utility invoices or breach notices.
The method of paying rent agreed between the tenant and the lessor/agent must be stated in the residential tenancy agreement (agreement). The agreement will identify if the tenant can pay rent by cash, cheque, direct into a bank account nominated by the lessor/agent or by an alternative method described in the agreement.
Payment by cash
The lessor can make an arrangement to collect cash payments for rent direct from the tenant. The lessor is required to provide you with a rent receipt within three (3) days of receiving the payment.
Alternatively the lessor/agent may accept cash payments at their office or another address. If you are making a cash payment direct to an agent they will provide a receipt at the time the payment is received.
Payment by cheque
When using cheques it is important to remember to ensure the cheque is able to be cleared by the date the rent is due. The lessor/agent is required to provide a rent receipt when a tenant pays using this method.
Payment direct into the landlord/agent’s bank account
It is generally open to the tenant to determine how they wish to make this payment. A lessor/agent cannot charge a fee when the tenant makes a payment using this method. However if the tenant chooses to use a method which incurs charges from their financial institution; for example when making payment using a credit card rather than a direct payment from a savings account the tenant is responsible for the charges incurred. Otherwise you cannot be charged a fee for paying using this method.
Payment using BPay
If BPay is provided as a fee free option for the tenant then the lessor/agent is responsible for absorbing any associated fees, however, any fees payable by the tenant to their own financial institution remain the responsibility of the tenant.
If Bpay is provided in addition to any fee free method of paying rent, then there may be costs incurred with the BPay platform or by the tenants’ financial institution that the tenant may be responsible for.
Payment using Centrepay
If this is the required form of rent payment outlined in the lease agreement the agent is responsible to pay the Centrelink fee however, if the tenant opts to use this payment type the tenant is responsible to pay the fee.
Payment using third party rent collectors
Some real estate agents and landlords are transferring or outsourcing the collection of rent to a third party or rent collection company.
The tenant ordinarily enters into an agreement directly with the company who will then forward payments collected from the tenant directly to the real estate agent or landlord.
The tenant cannot be charged any fees in addition to the rent payment. This may restrict the options the tenant has to pay their rent using this method. For example, if the tenant pays by credit card the company may wish to charge a credit card fee on top of the rent payable which is not permissible. The lessor/agent must otherwise agree to absorb the costs associated with such a payment and have the rent less the fee passed on to them. Consequently, some of these companies will not allow payment to be made by credit card where the lessor/agent does not agree to absorb the cost.
A tenant can only be required to pay rent using a third party rent collector if it is a term of the lease. During the term of a lease the lessor/agent cannot vary the lease to change the method of paying rent unless it is agreed by the tenant.
The lessor can request compensation if the tenant/s breach the agreement and it can be shown this has directly resulted in additional costs, which would not have been there if they had kept to the rental agreement.
If the tenant/s are asked to pay compensation to the lessor, it must be shown the cost is justified and is allowed under the law. If the tenant/s dispute this charge, they are entitled to have the matter determined by the Magistrates Court.
Consumer Protection recommends tenant/s carefully read a lease agreement and ask questions, including about the method of paying rent prior to signing.
If you are uncertain about any fees or charges, contact the Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 for advice.
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