ACT Rental Bonds

This week the Canberra Times published an article on the high number of rental bonds withheld from the tenants in the ACT. In my opinion, this article failed to clearly elaborate as to the reasons why tenants are not receiving the full amount of bond back after they vacate a rental property and only incited the age-old debate about how landlords and agents are so “unfair to tenants” and think the bond money belongs to them

While the statistic itself maybe correct, in the majority of cases, it is because it is at the tenants’ request. Whether this be to cover a shortfall in the rent, pay the final water bill, pay for the carpet cleaning – let me assure you of a couple of facts:

  1. Any monies taken from the bond MUST be agreed upon by both parties and if no agreement is reached, then the bond is held in dispute until a mediation takes place
  2. Moving to a new house for tenants is expensive, coming up with a new bond and sometimes to ease this financial burden, agents and landlords agree to take the final costs from the bond
  3. If money is going to come out of the bond for damages, again quotes are provided to the tenant for agreement
  4. ACAT provides a FREE and informal mediation process should a dispute arise

Ms Pippen suggesting tenants to download their own refund of bond form and lodge it without the landlord or agents signature is poor advice. By doing this, it leads to at least a 14-day response period by the landlord or agent and this starts from when the form is processed by Rental Bonds and this could be weeks!

The delays agents and landlords are experiencing with the Rental bonds office are the worst it has been in years. Up to 8 weeks for bond lodgements to be acknowledged & 4 weeks + for tenants to get their bond refunded. I think this is an area of concern. In other states, NSW for example, bonds are all lodged and refunded online. The tenant can get their bond refund back in 48 hours. Why can’t the ACT get on board with this system?

A recent example of the tardiness of the bond office, a recent tenant vacated on the 5th of February . The refund of bond form was sent to Rental Bonds on that day.  No deductions coming from the bond, bank details provided on the form and yet as of today 23rd February , they still have not received the $2000…….

I have worked directly in the property management industry for over 15 years in Canberra, the industry as a whole has moved in leaps and bounds. Agents are accountable to specified legislation, ongoing training requirements, regularly attend conferences and training events. Property Management as an entity is now a more recognised profession and, in the ACT, we have some of the countries leading Property Managers.

I dispute Ms Pippens claim that “Canberra landlords and agents were taking advantage of renters ” this is an unsubstantiated and inflammatory claim.  Myself and other Property Management Professionals, strive every day to ensure a fair management process for all clients

 

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