Landlords and agents in Western Australia are being warned to keep their tenancy bonds in order or face hefty penalties, amid a new government crackdown.
Two state government agencies – Consumer Protection and the Department of Communities – announced they have combined their resources to track down landlords who are failing to lodge tenancy bonds provided through the Bond Assistance Loan Scheme.
Data analysed by both agencies has found some landlords or agencies are not lodging the bond provided through the scheme, which allows for eligible Western Australians to apply for a free covering of a rental bond and potentially up to two week’s rent in advance, in order to get into the rental market.
David Hillyard, commissioner for consumer protection, said the tie-up of the two departments will mean those who are failing to submit bonds can expect to be contacted soon.
“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,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Bond money is held securely in trust by the bond administrator 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 or sooner, especially since the new Bonds Online eTransactions system has become available to all agents.”
Landlords who are caught can face a $2,000 infringement notice, while cases that go to court can result in fines of up to $20,000 per breach, Mr Hillyard said.
“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,” he concluded.