Mandatory Fees for rent payment - RTA position

William made this Right to Information request to Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority

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From: William

Delivered

Dear Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority,

I would like to know if any actions have been already taken against Ray White or LJ Hooker (among others) as some of their agencies are now using third-party platforms to collect payment and do not offer a free method to pay the rent. I need to know the position of RTA on this subject and if any actions are currently in progress.

These real estate companies are providing three ways to pay without using their platform (like asked by the law) but add conditions. Example for Ray White: cash payment is possible but only via AUS Post (so fees). They also offer payment via debit card but it will be treated as a credit card so you pay fees. I can provide a copy of Ray White Terms and Conditions. In one word, there is absolutely NO WAY to pay rent without paying fees. It costs on average $50 per year in fees if you pay your rent weekly.

Also, this platform takes up to 4 days to release the money to the real estate agent. What is RTA position (and again, any current action in progress?) about the fact that for a payday on a Tuesday, the real estate agent ask for a payment on Thursday the week before to make sure funds are available? They threaten you that even if you pay before the pay date (direct debit on Friday) it can be marked as 'late payment' if money hit their bank account on Wednesday because of unusual treatment time from their platform (so to make sure they do not stress, they ask you to pay earlier). In the end, the one week in advance you agreed when you signed the lease becomes two weeks in advance.

The absurdity of the situation is so obvious that I need to know if this case has been already raised and treated.

Thanks for your answer.

William

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From: RTA Enquiries
Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority


Attachment RTA Investigation Kit.pdf
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Dear William,

Thank you for your enquiry in relation to rent payment methods for rental
properties in Queensland.

The RTA is unable to disclose information in regards to current
investigations we are conducting. Some information related to previous
prosecutions the RTA has undertaken in relation to offences under the
Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act) can be
found on our website at:

[1]https://rta.qld.gov.au/Newsroom

In regards to rent payment methods, the tenancy agreement must state the
amount of rent, and when it is to be paid. The method of payment (e.g.
direct deposit) and the place of payment should also be included.

The property manager/owner cannot use rent for any other purpose (e.g. to
cover the cost of damage or repairs); it is an offence to do so.

Ways rent can be paid (listed in the Act):
• cash
• cheque
• deposit to a financial institution account (nominated by property
manager/owner)
• via EFTPOS
• credit card
• payroll deductions (or pension deduction)
• any other method agreed on by the property manager/owner and the tenant
(e.g. rent card)

If the property manager/owner wants the tenant to pay by another method
(e.g. rent card) they must inform the tenant of any costs (e.g. joining
and processing fees) associated with that method and offer at least 2
other listed ways to pay the rent.

[2]https://rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/Starting-...

There is no requirement within the Act that the lessor/agent must provide
a "free" way to pay the rent however the lessor/agent must adhere to the
requirements outlined above. As an example, if the agreement states rent
is to be paid via cheque (which is an approved method), the tenant may
be charged a fee by their bank for the check to be drawn on.

Section 86 of the Act refers to Payment of rent by electronic transaction:
(1) This section applies—
   (a) if a tenant effects an electronic transaction to pay rent to the
account of the lessor or lessor’s agent on a day; and
   (b) does not take any action to defer the payment to the lessor’s or
lessors agent’s account to a later day.
(2) Payment is taken to be received by the lessor or lessor’s agent on the
day the tenant effects the electronic transaction.
(3) Subsection (2) applies even if, because of circumstances beyond the
tenant’s control, the payment to the lessor’s or lessors agent’s account
happens on a later day.

Example:
The tenant uses BPay to authorise payment of rent to be debited to the
tenant’s account on a Wednesday. However, the financial institution,
because of its internal arrangements, does not actually debit the tenant’s
account and credit the lessor’s or lessors agent’s account until the next
day. The rent payment is taken to have been received by the lessor or
lessor’s agent on the Wednesday.
Items 7-10 in the General Tenancy Agreement (form 18A) (your lease)
outlines the terms of your rent payment. Item 8 refers to the day and
period your rent is to be paid for. As an example, if you agreement states
you pay on a Wednesday and you pay fortnightly, as long as you have paid
the fortnight of rent on the Wednesday, even though it may take a few days
for the money to appear in the real estate's account, you have still met
your requirement in paying the rent.

The RTA investigates alleged offences under the Residential Tenancies and
Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the Act).

The RTA’s compliance function promotes compliance with the law and
discourages future offending through education and enforcement action.

Some of the offences the RTA can investigate include:
• failure to lodge a bond with the RTA within 10 days of receiving the
bond
• failure to provide a written tenancy agreement
• entry by a property manager/owner without proper notice or consent
• imposing special terms in tenancy agreements that contravene the Act
• providing false or misleading documents to the RTA
• failure to provide a forwarding address if asked in writing at the end
of a tenancy
• ending a tenancy in an unauthorised way (e.g. forcefully evicting a
tenant)

[3]https://rta.qld.gov.au/Investigations/In...

The RTA encourages you and your agent to communicate directly to reach a
mutual agreement with each other about tenancy issues. This is often the
quickest and least complicated way to sort out issues while maintaining
relationships and can prevent disputes. For tips on self resolution please
refer to RTA’s website:

[4]http://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Disputes/Dispu...

My response is based on the information provided in your enquiry. If my
response does not fully address your enquiry or should you have any
further queries regarding tenancy and bond related matters, please contact
the RTA on 1300 366 311 (or +617 3046 5400 for overseas callers).

Yours sincerely,

Cameron Donaghey  | Support Officer | Support Team | Customer Experience
Residential Tenancies Authority | Level 23, 179 Turbot St | GPO Box 390
Brisbane Q 4001
t 1300 366 311 | [5]www.rta.qld.gov.au

***DISCLAIMER***
This information is for general guidance only. It is not legal advice. The
RTA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information
provided. For more information refer to Residential Tenancies and Rooming
Accommodation Act 2008.

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Brett Wilson left an annotation ()

Because these agents are Registered Companies forcing customers into transactions with alleged unavoidable fees, this could be a case of Unconscionable Conduct under the Corporations Act? If I were you, I would file a complaint with both ASIC and the ACCC and see who might run with it and start and investigation? This system seems to be unconscionable and seemingly penalizes you for paying your rent.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority only: