Landlords in Western Australia who fail to lodge tenancy bonds that were provided through a rental assistance program are currently being tracked down by both Consumer Protection and the Department of Communities.
The two state government agencies have joined forces to address malpractice after their data revealed that a concerning number of landlords or real estate agencies have violated the law.
Under the Bond Assistance Loan Scheme offered by the Department of Communities, eligible Western Australians can apply for a no-interest and fee-free loan to cover ongoing property costs (including all or part of the bond and up to two weeks’ rent in advance) to aid them in securing accommodation in the private rental market.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act administered by Consumer Protection, landlords must register tenancy bonds to the bond administrator within 14 days. Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said that those who did not comply with the law will be contacted.
“The data matching has allowed us to more easily identify bonds that are not being held by the bond administrator and will allow us to take action against landlords or property managers who have failed to comply with the law, both past and present,” Hillyard said.
Bond money is held securely in trust by the bond administrator, and any delay in depositing these funds may put landlords at risk. Those who are found guilty may face a $2,000 infringement notice or, if the matter goes to court, they could face a fine of up to $20,000 for every breach.
“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 all landlords and property managers to check their records and ensure that any bond monies being held are transferred to the Bond Administrator immediately. Tenants should get a notification that their bond has been lodged, so if they haven’t received this, they should contact Consumer Protection and let us know,” Hillyard said.