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Tenants in Victoria will have the option to pay and claim their bond directly online, without needing to lodge it through a rental provider, thanks to a refreshed Residential Tenancies Bond Authority website.
The new online system, set to make paying and claiming bonds much quicker and easier, will be up and running by mid-2023.
Victorians will have the option to pay and claim their rental bond online from mid-2023.Credit:iStock
It’s a move Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne says will cut down on paperwork and give tenants peace of mind that the bond is sitting securely with the authority.
“Currently, renters must submit their bond to their rental provider or real estate agent, meaning the responsibility of lodging the bond sits largely with the rental provider,” Horne said.
“Giving renters the option to submit their bond directly will simplify the process and cut red tape for renters, rental providers and property managers.”
Tenants across the city are reporting issues with landlords not submitting bond payments to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, causing issues when it comes to claiming it back.
Some tenants report paying bonds that has not been lodged with the RTBA.Credit:iStock
The Renters and Housing Union says about a third of the cases it takes on for tenants deal with problem bond claims and damage to property.
“We do have a couple of cases at the moment where the bond hasn’t been lodged with the RTBA … so my hope is that if tenants can pay the bond directly to the authority you will have far less instances of this,” union spokeswoman Ellise Bourne said.
“We also have lots of cases of real estate agencies withholding bonds for unsubstantiated maintenance on the exit of a property, so hopefully it will improve this too.”
Horne said the $9 million upgrade to the website would be integrated with Service Victoria’s identity verification to “seamlessly process bond repayments and bond loans to tenants”.
Paying a bond will be far quicker, the Victorian Government says.Credit:Peter Rae
“Verifying users online means they can change their bond details and claim their bonds without the need for paper forms and signatures,” Horne said.
Under rental law reforms introduced in March last year, tenants can apply directly to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority to have their bond released, without needing to wait for the rental provider or agent to lodge their bond claim, but this has to be done formally using forms and paperwork.
While tenants can claim online, landlords or co-tenants will still have a chance to dispute it. They will be notified when a claim is made and have up to 14 days to lodge their own claim.
Horne said almost 15,000 bond claims had been initiated by tenants since new rental laws were introduced, with more than half paid directly to the tenant.
“We know that dealing with rental bonds can be challenging and inconvenient – we’re fixing that to make the process better for everyone involved,” Horne said.
While the government hopes the process will be easier, real estate agencies will still be pushing to prefer to manage the bond process themselves, with tenants needing to negotiate the best way to pay the bond with their property manager.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria 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”.
“As most of the process for lodging and claiming bonds is already online, and property managers need to maintain an oversight of the bond lodgment process to protect their owner’s interests, it is likely that they will prefer to use the current RTBA online processes,” she said.
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