Did you know that landlords in most Australian states (with the exception of Western Australia) are not allowed to charge a pet bond? But if you’re based in WA, there are a number of steps to follow to ensure the bond is lodged correctly.
The pet bond is a payment designed to cover the higher costs associated with accepting a pet into a rental property.
In WA, the pet bond is restricted to a one-off payment of $260, which means pet-loving landlords are left with a few options: Refusing pets, charging a higher rent, or losing money through damage repairs. The only time the pet bond can be higher is if the weekly rent is more than an amount set by regulation ($1,200 per week as at 1 June 2011), but tenants must not be charged a pet bond for an assistance dog (e.g. a guide dog).
According to the WA Department of Commerce, a pet bond may be charged if a tenant is permitted to keep pets capable of carrying parasites which can affect humans.
Lodging a bond
A lessor / agent must lodge the security bond and the pet bond together as a single amount. They also have to specify the amount taken as pet bond.
Bond money, according to the WA Department of Commerce, must be lodged with the Bond Administrator, as soon as possible and no later than 14 days after receipt of the money. The manner in which you lodge your bond depends on whether you are a private lessor, or an agent / property manager.
As a landlord
Bonds must be lodged using the bond lodgement form. This form must be printed, signed and submitted to the Bond Administrator by post, email, or in person. This not a form that can be used by a licensed real estate agent.
When your tenant pays the bond, as a lessor you must issue a receipt immediately once the payment has been received. This receipt must include:
- the name of the person who paid the receipt;
- amount paid;
- date on which it was paid;
- the address of the rental premises; and
- the amount of the pet bond if a pet bond is paid.
Where does the bond money go?
Bond money is held during a tenancy in an account with an authorised financial institution (either a trust account or individual account), or with the Bond Administrator. These provisions are intended to make sure the money is secure until both parties agree on how it should be disbursed at the end of the tenancy.
At the end of the tenancy
The pet bond is designed to meet the cost of fumigation of the property, should it be required at the end of a tenancy. This money should be returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy, less ONLY the expense of fumigation. If no fumigation is required, the pet bond should be returned in full to your tenant.