Tuesday, July 26, 2016

21st Century Bonds - part 2

Back in April we noted the introduction of a new Online Rental Bonds scheme, which allows tenants to pay their rental bond directly to the Rental Bond Board instead of handing it over for lodgement by a landlord or real estate agent.

We can see the benefits of such a scheme. Rental bonds are tenants' money, and it makes sense for them to have some agency over its payment into the Rental Bond Board. For that matter, real estate agents should appreciate some relief from the administrative burden of collecting and lodging all those piles of other people's money. That time could be spent lining up contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance, after all!

But tenants can only use the Rental Bonds Online system if their landlord or agent has registered to use it, and informs the tenant that the option is available. In reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act earlier this year, NSW Fair Trading explored this a little. Here's what their report says:
Rental Bonds Online The new Rental Bonds Online system has been very well received by all stakeholders. It has allowed tenants to pay their bond directly to the Rental Bond Board, thereby reducing the incidence of landlords and agents failing to lodge bonds – an offence under the Act. However, tenants can only lodge a bond electronically if the real estate agent or the landlord has an account with Rental Bonds Online. 
In order to drive uptake by tenants and facilitate the transition of bond payments from a paper based system to an online system, the review concluded that the Act should require landlords or their agents to register with Rental Bonds Online and provide new tenants with an invitation to use Rental Bonds Online prior to lodgement of the bond. 
Importantly, tenants without online access would not be disadvantaged. If they preferred, they could still give the bond directly to the landlord.
It then went on to make the following recommendation:
Recommendation 8: That the Act require all landlords and agents to register with Rental Bonds Online and provide tenants with an invitation to use Rental Bonds Online prior to bond lodgement.
Given this is a relatively new service, we wonder how many tenants have been offered the use of Rental Bonds Online by a new landlord or real estate agent? How many have taken up the offer? How many have declined?

Most importantly, what do tenants who have made use of it think of the service? What are the concerns that might have lead some tenants to expressly decline to use it?

We'd love to hear from you if you've had any encounters with the Online Rental Bonds system. Drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or here on the Brown Couch.


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