The state government departments of consumer protection and communities in Western Australia are joining forces to target landlords who fail to lodge tenancy bonds provided through the state’s rental assistance program.
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 in-going property costs. It includes all or part of the bond, and up to two weeks’ rent in advance, to assist them to get into the private rental market.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, administered by consumer protection, landlords must lodge tenancy bonds with the bond administrator within 14 days.
But matching the data held by both agencies has uncovered “a concerning number” of cases where the bond as failed to have been lodged.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said that the cooperation between both departments will be felt by those who haven’t complied with the law.
“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,” he said.
“Bond money is held securely in trust 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.”
He said that this is especially the case since the new BondsOnline eTransactions system has become available to all agents.
“Offenders 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.
“Landlords and property managers should check their records. 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.”