The Changes to Rental Bond Claims
A new online bond system implemented by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority is one of many changes over the last 18 months that gives a vastly improved experience for renters.
Renters in Victoria now have access to a freshly revamped bond submitting system that promises to make the process faster, easier and more efficient for everyone involved.
Reforms introduced in the major rental law changes in March 2021 allowed for renters to apply directly to the RTBA for a bond release without the need of waiting for the rental provider or real estate agency to do it for them, ensuring that if there were no objections from their rental provider or real estate agent within 14 days, then their bond would automatically be refunded. These new reforms are a continuation of the changes from last year.
However, new changes allows renters to submit bond money directly to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority online, instead of submitting it through your rental provider or real estate agency. It’s not only striving to make the system more efficient but give renters greater peace of mind that their money is in safe hands, ensuring that they are going to receive their bond returned, if they are not at any fault. The previous system would often see renters submitting their bond money directly to the rental provider creating several causes of concern:
- The rental provider may or may not submit the bond to the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority.
- The rental provider could take their time in deciding if the tenant should receive their bond after they vacate, based on their ‘opinion’ of what is considered fair wear and tear, and what isn’t. And
- The rental provider might just pocket the bond for no particular reason, rather than putting the funds in ‘trust’ with the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority.
The other concern is that in the frequent case that a rental provider believes that they’ve suffered loss as a result of the rental agreement, the current backlog of hearings with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to have their case heard has been disproportionally delayed. Some tenants are waiting months, even years to get their case heard, meaning that their entire bond is being held in trust until the hearing date. Because of this backlog, VCAT is asking renters and rental providers to negotiate between themselves instead of waiting such a long time for the renter to potentially regain the bond money, or use a new temporary mediation system has been created to deal with bond releases only to relieve this backlog.
A 2021 annual report from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority revealed that 24% of renters in Victoria lost part of their bond due to not leaving the property as they received it, with the exception of fair wear and tear, with 8% losing the entirety due to not complying with the terms of their rental agreement.
The upgrade also includes an integration of Service Victoria’s identity verification system to aid the process of bond repayments and bond loans to renters. The authorising system will also allow for swifter processes online as opposed to the need for physical paperwork, gathering signatures and submitting the bond as previously occurred, allowing for a more streamlined process for all - renters, rental providers and property managers. The updated website is set to include easier access on mobile devices and a variety of payment methods.
Tenants Victoria deal with a lot of challenges in relation to bond claims, which is particularly time and resource consuming. They are at the forefront of standing up for tenants and attempting to find solutions in difficult dispute situations. They will often deal with people in desperate situations who will be hugely impacted by their individual bond case, with stress, frustration and anger common emotions experienced by those impacted.
Pleased with the news, Tenants Victoria expressed in a statement ‘Tenants Victoria welcomes the plan for renters to pay bonds directly to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority. This is not only convenient for renters, but also gives them confidence that the bond is going straight to where it needs to be, without relying on an intermediary to do the right thing.’ Sure to save the organisation significant time and headaches, they added ‘The new system facilitates quick refunds when there is no claim on the bond, and ensures the bond is actually paid to the RTBA because renters can pay the bond directly to the authority. For many, losing your bond can mean housing insecurity and ultimately homelessness. Getting your bond back quickly when there are no issues is a relief for many.
The new bond system is predicted to save the government approximately $3.5 million a year in operational costs according to Minister for Consumer Affairs Melissa Horne. Local service provider 8Squad will work with the Department of Justice and Community Safety on the $9 million project funded by the Victorian Government.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria, Director and Vice President, Leah Calnan, said the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority “has been on the horizon for some time and will probably be most beneficial for owners who are self-managing their rental property”. The faster system promises to take pressure off rental providers and allow for a potentially more transparent and strong relationship with renters.
The new system will not only make life easier for Tenants Victoria themselves, but most importantly their clients who they represent. Promising to free up human resources and valuable time, the new system should allow for progress to be made on other fronts at Tenants Victoria. Perhaps improved speed in regards to processing each case or being able to take a more detailed approach into the cases at hand.
Besser and Co have a strategically created Property Management Department, each with specific roles, ensuring each one of our staff is an expert in their role. Our Leasing Manager, our Business Development Manager, our Senior Property Managers and Property Managers are here to streamline your rental processes with efficiency and dedication to your property portfolio, ensuring we follow the right procedures for bond allocation, when your tenants vacate.