DID you know tenants must be provided with information prior to their name being posted on a tenancy database?
They must also be given an opportunity to challenge the accuracy or fairness of the proposed listing, said David Hillyard, Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection.
Mr Hillyard’s comments come following a “serious” breach of tenancy law by a Joondanna landlord, and his respective companies, in regard to placing a tenant on a database.
Tomas Mijatovic, trading as TRM Property Services, was fined a total of $5,500 and ordered to pay $9,000 in costs after making an illegal entry into a tenancy database and failing to properly process bond payments received from tenants.
Mr Mijatovic was found guilty by the Perth Magistrates Court on 8 September of two charges relating to the database entry and five charges relating to the handling of security bonds.
In July 2013 Mr Mijatovic listed a tenant on the TICA tenancy database, a resource used by landlords and agents to determine the suitability of applicants for rental properties. However, it wasn’t until November 2013 that Mr Mijatovic and the tenant came to an agreement to terminate the tenancy.
Mr Mijatovic also failed to advise the tenant or supply details of the information to be posted on TICA prior to the listing.
It is an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) to list a tenant’s personal details on a residential tenancy database before the tenancy has ended. Also, tenants must be advised prior to listing and be given 14 days to object or make a submission about the accuracy, completeness or clarity of the information.
Between May 2012 and September 2014, Mr Mijatovic collected a total of $9,000 in security bonds from five tenants in Joondanna either as a private landlord or as a property manager. This money was deposited and had remained in a bank account that Mr Mijatovic controlled, in breach of tenancy laws. The tenants had difficulty in obtaining the return of their security bond at the end of their tenancies.
Prior to July 2013, bonds had to be lodged either with the Bond Administrator or placed in a financial institution trust account in the name of the tenant and the owner. Amendments to the RTA now require all bonds to be lodged with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of receipt.
Mr Hillyard said the breaches of tenancy law by Mr Mijatovic were serious, particularly in regard to placing a tenant on a database.
A tenant whose name appears on tenancy databases may have major problems securing a tenancy in the future, so it’s vital that the information available to other landlords or their agents is accurate and fair,” Mr Hillyard said.
“For that reason, the law requires the tenant be provided with the information prior to posting on the database and given an opportunity to challenge the accuracy or fairness of the proposed listing.
“In this case, the tenant was denied the opportunity to challenge the listing and their rights were ignored. Landlords, property managers and real estate agents should be well aware of the laws applying to tenancy databases and ensure that they comply in all circumstances.”
More information about tenants’ rights and landlord/agent obligations with regard to tenancy databases is available online at http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/tenancy-databases – or enquiries can be made by calling 1300 30 40 54.