Lowdown on bond top-ups

As rents rise across Western Australia, many tenants may discover that in addition to paying more weekly rent, there is a further expense being asked of them.

When rent is increased at a property, a landlord or property manager may request the tenant pay extra money to ‘top-up’ their security bond.

How much a tenant is asked to pay will depend on how much their weekly rent has increased by. For a property rented at $1,200 a week or less, the maximum total security bond that can be charged is the equivalent of four weeks’ rent, while for weekly rents above $1,200 there is no limit on the total bond that can be charged.

Now that we have resumed normal tenancy laws in which rent increases are allowed, there has been a sizeable increase in the number of bond top-ups being handled by the Bonds Administration team at Consumer Protection – increasing from around 50 lodgements on a typical day before the COVID-19 emergency period, to 341 lodgements on one recent day.

This has prompted us to remind tenants, landlords and property managers of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to lodging bond variations.

The way bond variations are lodged with us will depend on whether the rental home is managed by a private landlord or property manager. Private lessors should complete a ‘variation of security bond form’ listing the relevant changes and can submit the signed form via post, email or in-person. Meanwhile, a licensed real estate agent is required to make any changes to a security bond via the BondsOnline system as an eTransaction.

Once the tenant has paid the additional bond, a receipt must be immediately issued that specifies the date the money was received, the name of the person (or people) paying the bond, the amount paid and the address of the rental property.

After the bond has been lodged, the Bonds Administrator will send a copy of the ‘Record of Variation’ to the tenants, as well as their landlord or property manager.

Our website has further information about bond variations, and other related topics such as bond disposals. Visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/bonds for more.

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lanie_chopping3.jpg, by fpennington

Lanie Chopping

Commissioner for Consumer Protection

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