I have been living in share houses for a few years now, with the regular comings and goings you accept of living in a large share house. Each time someone moved out and we informed the agent, apart from her chucking a song and dance about how we had broken our lease, she would always charge us a $100 fee for administration purposes. I always had a feeling this was a bit dodgy – but accepted it as a way to get her to go away.
Fast forward to today, someone complained about this agency to ACT Fair Trading and they are being forced to refund all these change of tenant admin fees going back at least 4 years. So I am getting a small cheque in the post. ACT Fair Trading called me and had been going through the Agents books for tenants affected. Turns out it is illegal under section 15 of the Tenancies Act to charge any fee other than Bond or Rent to a tenant. Anyone in a similar situation should contact them, I spoke to a very pleasant lady called Katrina.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT 1997 – SECT 15
Rent or a bond only
(1) In consideration for giving a tenant a right to occupy premises, a lessor may only require or accept rent or a bond.
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(2) A lessor must not require or accept any consideration for—
(a) agreeing to enter into, extend or renew a residential tenancy agreement; or
(b) agreeing to the assignment or transfer of a tenant’s rights and obligations under a residential tenancy agreement; or
(c) consenting to a tenant entering into, extending or renewing a residential tenancy agreement with a subtenant; or
(d) vacating premises; or
(e) giving a tenant a key to premises; or
(f) informing a tenant about the availability of premises for occupation under a residential tenancy agreement.
For an agency which prides itself on being “the best”, you’d think they’d know the law better than a bunch of Uni students. They were not a very nice agency, one of the main problems they had was that all their employees were Real Estate Agents, so they were starting from a very low base.