Consumer Protection Western Australia has said that landlords who fail to comply with their legal requirements face strict prosecution, after a Perth landlord was heftily fined for tenant bond irregularities.
Mark Alasdair Adam, formerly of Bayswater but now residing in Sydney, was convicted in his absence and fined $10,000 after failing to lodge tenant bonds from two separate tenants. The sentence was handed down in the Perth Magistrates Court in March.
He was fined $5,000 for each offence and ordered to pay $3,775.10 in costs.
In July 2016, Mr Adam collected a $1,600 bond from a tenant at one of the duplexes and, in August 2016, collected the same amount from tenants living next door. After almost three years, neither bond had been lodged with the Bond Administrator, breaching the Residential Tenancies Act. He then kept the bond monies after the tenancy ended without the agreement of those tenants or having received a court order.
Landlords are legally required to lodge bonds with the Bond Administrator. This must be completed as soon as practicable after receiving the funds but should take no more than 14 days.
Magistrate Wilson acknowledged that the law is designed to protect the security of the funds by having a place to store them which is separate to both parties so they are disposed of appropriately at the end of the tenancy.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said that the non-lodgement of bonds is unacceptable.
“Bond money is held securely in trust by the Bond Administrator and any delay in depositing these funds puts them at risk,” he said.
“There is absolutely no excuse why bond monies are not lodged with the Bond Administrator nor any reason why they cannot be lodged within the 14-day period or sooner.
“Landlords who choose not to engage a real estate agent to manage their property should ensure they are aware of the laws that apply to them, especially for the lodgement of bond monies, property condition reports, a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment and property inspections.”
Mr Hillyard said that landlords can face criminal convictions and fines of up to $20,000 if they violate these “important” aspects of tenancy law.