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Adjournment: Rental payment systems

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
28 October 2021

My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, and my ask is that the minister bans the use of third-party platforms for rental payments in Victoria.

Renters across Victoria are increasingly being asked by their property managers to sign onto third-party property management software. The third-party platforms are pitched as a property management tool for the real estate industry and are supposedly designed to make it easier for renters and their property managers to manage all aspects of a tenancy.

Renters are rightly concerned that their personal data, including bank details, are being provided to an unknown third party through the use of these platforms.

In many cases renters are also told that signing up to the new systems is mandatory and are left with no choice but to hand over their personal and financial data to a third party.

There has also been an increase in third-party companies that process rental payments themselves, which most often involve hidden fees and charges. Some can add up to as much as an extra week’s worth of rent a year.

While I understand that the Residential Tenancies Act requires that a rental provider must offer at least one rent payment method without fees or charges, and that it is reasonably available, it’s concerning that even the fee-free payment methods are now being processed through third-party platforms.

Where renters previously arranged their own Bpay or other rental payments, they are now being directed through the platform and in many cases offered only one fee-free option alongside a number of payment options with attached fees.

It’s also likely that many renters will find themselves pushed into adopting the payment methods through the platforms that do have extra charges attached to them.

I’ve been hearing from renters that the real estate industry is already pushing the limits of what ‘reasonably available’ payment methods allow. For example, some renters are being asked to travel to the real estate agency to pay rent in person as their fee-free, reasonably available method of payment; others are being asked to pay with cheques or in cash.

Pushing renters to sign up to and go through a third-party software company to pay their rent, which may lead many to incur extra fees, also appears to be on the limits of what is reasonable.

I ask the minister to ban the use of third-party platforms for rental payments in Victoria.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
28 October 2021
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