26 September 2023

Renters reminded of bond ‘top-ups’

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Consumer Protection has highlighted the plight of household tenants facing rent increases as well as a rising cost of living brought on by soaring inflation.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe said that after rent was increased at a property, a landlord or property manager was entitled to ask the tenant to pay extra money towards their security bond.

Known as a ‘bond top-up’, the amount of money requested would depend on how much the weekly rent had increased, Mr Newcombe said.

“For a property rented at $1,200 a week or less, the maximum total security bond that could be charged was the equivalent of four weeks’ rent, while for weekly rents above $1,200 there was no limit on the total bond that could be charged,” he said.

He said new figures showed the Bonds Administration team at Consumer Protection had handled around 69,000 bond top-ups since the COVID-19 rental moratorium ended 15 months ago — an average of 153 lodgements a day.

“This figure is around three times higher than the 50 lodgements the team typically processed before the emergency period took effect,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Tenants facing rent rises should know there are strict rules surrounding how often their landlords or property managers are allowed to request the extra funds be paid,” he said.

“In both fixed-term and periodic (no fixed end-date) leases, rent increases can only occur after the first six months, and on a half-yearly basis thereafter.”

He said the landlord or property manager could request a bond top-up only after the rent had been lawfully increased.

“The tenant should also expect to receive a notification from the Bonds Administrator that the bond variation had been received,” Mr Newcombe said.

More information about rent and bond increases can be accessed on the Consumer Protection website at this PS News link.

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