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Rental payment apps the subject of growing petition

By Juliet Helmke
14 June 2024 | 12 minute read
Mobile phone woman

An online petition raising concerns about rent tech apps has garnered media attention and thousands of responses.

Tenants who are only being given the option of paying their rent through a third-party app have voiced their frustrations with the platforms through a change.org petition that has so far garnered 11,000 signatures during the month that it has been active.

The fees associated with using rent tech apps are the paramount issue in the petition – which pointed to platforms like Ailo, Rental Rewards, or SimpleRent – though the author has also raised safety concerns due to the fact that consumers must share their sensitive information with yet another service provider.

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While rental providers must provide a free way of paying rent in order to be compliant with laws across a number of states, tenants are now arguing that the free method offered through some rent tech apps is cumbersome and unfairly complicated. The easier methods, such as direct debit, involve paying fees that could run renters hundreds of dollars a year.

“Australia needs legislation in each state that clearly states landlords and real estate agents must offer reasonable fee-free payment options for rental payments, such as direct debit or direct bank deposits,” the petition argues.

“In addition to concerns with fees, there are many legitimate concerns about the security of personal and banking details being secured by these apps.

“Many tenants have experienced data breaches from large companies such as Optus, Latitude and Medibank and are rightly hesitant to hand over personal and financial details to yet another third-party provider,” it reads.

The petition positions the issue as a matter of ensuring equality across the nation’s housing system, so that renters are not subject to undue burden in comparison to those who own a home either outright or with a mortgage.

“This is not just about protecting renters’ rights; it’s about ensuring fairness and justice in our housing system. We cannot allow these predatory practices to continue unchallenged. Therefore, we call upon our federal government and state legislators to enact laws that protect tenants from being forced into using specific payment methods that carry additional costs,” the petition concluded.

In NSW, electronic petitions that are brought to Parliament and have garnered more than 20,000 signatures must be announced by the speaker.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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