The latest statistics from Don't Rent Me show that a staggering 32% of all reviews in Australia include what tenants describe as false claims during and at the end of the lease that are designed to keep the tenants' deposit bond.
With 9 in 10 negatively geared houses being existing dwellings, it's not hard to imagine that many of the rented dwellings in Australia are quickly becoming dilapidated. Are landlords pulling off the greatest heist of all by using tenants' deposit bonds to maintain their ageing investments?
You would think this activity would be risky business for any real estate agent or landlord. What if they got caught out for making up claims in an attempt to effectively steal or otherwise deceptively obtain the tenants' deposit bond? Perhaps it is the thrill of pulling off something so risky and difficult that lures so many to try.
In fact, the reality is that there is no penalty other than a small amount of lost time.
For the few tenants who actually defend themselves at their state Tenancy Tribunal or Magistrates Court, they are surprised to find that there is no punishment for what, obvious to the tenant, is a blatant attempt at theft. It is simply passed off as a misunderstanding on the real estate agent's or landlord's part and everyone is free to go on their merry way.
It almost seems worth it! Except that it's disgracefully immoral, unjust, illegal and offenders should be identified and fined or otherwise punished.
Many tenants do not defend themselves due to a number of circumstances including Tenancy Tribunal & Magistrates Court fees (sometimes into the hundreds of dollars), loss of income, lost condition report, fear & mistrust of the judicial process and a lack of specific support, advice & representation for tenants, to name only a few. Tenants are guilty until proven innocent. It makes you wonder just how often this occurs behind closed doors...
Tenants also explain that real estate agent's and landlord's will often claim just enough so that it makes defending the claim financially unviable due to fees and loss of income. This could still range in the $500+ range or more depending on the fees and the tenants' income, information which the real estate agent and landlord are privy to knowing.
After spending some time reading reviews on the website it becomes quite evident that some real estate agents and landlords will use every excuse under the sun to try and substantiate a claim on part or all of the tenants' deposit bond.
Tried to keep our bond over a worn out patch of grass which we had stated on our entry report and a one cm patch of dust on top of a ceiling fan... read more
How can you protect yourself from bond burglary?
The Tenant Rights Party will introduce a National Tenancy Body with a mandate to handle tenant complaints, play an active role in dispute resolution, issue penalties to repeatedly offending real estate agencies & landlords and assist in the enforcement of tenant rights.
If it's fair that the state Fair Trading Departments will enforce the rights of retail consumers, then it is also only fair that the residential consumers (or tenants) are afforded similar protections under the act.