Win for NSW tenants with bonds poised to be transferrable.
NSW renters will soon no longer face the prospect of being out of pocket when they move house.
The state government is set to introduce changes to parliament this week which will allow tenants to transfer their bond from one rental property to another.
It can take up to several weeks before existing bonds are released, leaving renters thousands of dollars out of pocket in between tenancies.
Better Regulation minister Matt Kean said the proposal would alleviate financial pressures on tenants.
"Moving house is stressful enough, and there are often many unexpected costs involved that you don't realise until you're neck-deep in moving boxes," said Mr Kean.
"Having to fork out for a new bond while waiting for the other one to be released causes significant financial stress for families, especially when they can cost thousands of dollars.
"This reform helps relieve cost-of-living pressures associated with moving house, and allows families to avoid payday lending schemes that often trap consumers in a nasty debt cycle that is difficult to get out of."
Sarah Agar, head of campaigns and policy at consumer advocacy group Choice, has welcomed the move.
"We've been calling for improvement to renters' rights for a long time now. Tenants are under an enormous amount of rental stress," said Ms Agar.
"Nobody should be paying double bond for weeks at a time. This legislation will really ease financial stress on people who are renting."
The specifics of how a deduction would be made has not yet been decided. Should a landlord want to claim money from the bond, the government is considering Choice's proposal of a provisional certificate.
Provided by the Rental Bond Board, the certificate would allow the entire bond amount to be transferred from one property to another. The damage amount would need to be paid by the tenant to the landlord separately and within a short time frame. If a payment was not made, it would be considered a breach, similar to non-payment of a bond.
Since January last year, agents and landlords have been required to offer tenants rental bonds online as the first option to lodge their bond, but it is not mandatory for them to use it. The new provision will apply to all bonds regardless of how they are lodged.
"We really think this solves the problem here," Ms Agar said. "The consultation process was rigorous and I think the government has landed on an innovative approach that will protect renters and bonds as well.
"We don't see landlords being out of pocket and the majority of renters in NSW received their bond back in full. The use of provisional certificates will cover any risk there."
Tony Devlin, head of The Salvation Army's financial counselling service Moneycare, also welcomed the change.
"Housing stress is the number one issue people are coming to see us. Anything to avoid a payday loan is a good thing. It would relieve the cash flow pressure. It would relieve their housing stress," he said.Source Domain
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