A private landlord in Western Australia has been fined by a local magistrates court for not lodging his tenants’ bonds.
The Geraldton landlord was fined a total of $2,500 by Geraldton Magistrates Court for failing to deposit two of his tenants’ security bonds and failing to lodge the bond of a third tenant with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of receipt.
John Lewis Donohoe, a former real estate agent, received a $2,100 bond from a tenant in January 2011 and a $2,000 bond from another tenant in May 2012 but failed to deposit the money into a trust account in the name of the owner and tenant, or with the Bond Administrator, as required by the Residential Tenancies Act at the time. He was fined $1,000 for each of these two offences.
In June 2012, Mr Donohoe collected $2,200 in bond money from a third tenant but took 42 days to lodge it with the Bond Administrator, which was outside the time allowed for bond lodgement under the Act at the time. He was fined $500 for this offence, and was also ordered to pay $486 in costs.
Magistrate Lawrence, in handing down the penalty, took into consideration that Mr Donohoe was a former real estate agent and should have been well aware of the requirements of the Act.
All new bonds must now be lodged with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of collection. Bonds deposited in trust accounts prior to the new tenancy laws coming into effect on 1 July 2013 must be transferred to the Bond Administrator by the end of next year.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said failing to lodge, or any delays in lodging, bond money with the Bond Administrator was a serious breach of tenancy laws.
“The law ensures that a tenant’s bond money is secure and will not be misused, so private landlords as well as agents need to lodge the funds with the Bond Administrator as soon as practicable and certainly no longer than 14 days,” Ms Driscoll said.
“Failing to do so, or lodging too late, can result in action by Consumer Protection, which could result in a prosecution as well as serious damage to the landlord or agent’s reputation.”