The RAHU Guide To Rental Payment Apps (Victoria edition)
What is a rental payment app?
Rent payment apps are third-party apps used by real estate agencies to outsource and manage rental payments by renters.
These apps increasingly aim to manage condition reports, renters’ requests for maintenance and repairs, and tenancy applications.
RAHU is concerned that these payment apps are not transparent about using our data. They are coming at an added cost to the renter in payment transfer fees and other added costs.
Has your real estate agent requested that you pay rent with an app?
Suppose your real estate agent has sent you an email stating that their payment method has changed, or they have stated a compulsory method to pay your rent in your lease. In that case, you may have been coerced into using a third-party payment app.
Examples include Kolmeo, Rental Rewards, OurProperty, SimpleRent, Philip Webb Tenants, Managed App, Cubbi, and MyProperty.
How are renters affected by tenancy management apps?
● Skirting of Responsibility of Property Managers
Your Real Estate Agency wants to use this service to automate their business further to increase their profits, resulting in more properties per property manager. Do you believe your property manager responds promptly? Will they be able to respond better with triple the properties?
● Privacy & Data collection
Third-party services are tough to hold to account. They are commercialising your data. They often absolve themselves from responsibility if their data is leaked and decree their privacy policies and terms to be subject to change at their discretion.
Many tenancy management apps charge fees for each transaction. The apps permit themselves to change the fees. For instance, Kolmeo reserves the right to alter the fees at any time by providing 30 days notice.
What are my rights?
Under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Section 42, your landlord or agent must:
- Provide you options on how to pay your rent.
- Ensure that at least one of these options is free and does not come with payment or transfer fees.
- Permit you to pay your rent through “any prescribed payment method.”
- Notify you of any fees, charges or costs using any particular payment method.
What about my privacy?
Under the Privacy Act, you have the right to know what your personal information is being used for, where it is being stored, and for how long. You can request your real estate agent to notify you in writing.
Your privacy and data rights may be breached if you haven’t been provided with this information.
Do I have less rights?
No. Your rights, as stated in the RTA, remain. You can assert your rights by contacting your agent and stating which payment method you used.
Your agent still must do their job, including ensuring repairs and other requests you have are communicated to the landlord and action in the correct time frames required.
My agent said the only other option is by cheque.
RAHU members have found that agents have coerced renters into using the app by saying they must go to the post office and deliver a monthly cheque for their rental payment as the only other option.
We believe this is an unreasonable request and limits how your rent is paid and your ability to pay your rent, protected under the RTA.
Banks are also not providing cheques to their customers anymore.
We recommend you request to pay via BPAY or another electronic transfer method.
What should we have instead?
RAHU is calling for an end to third-party payment apps, as we believe they come at a cost to renters.
We believe that all renters should have their rights protected and make sure that:
- There are no fees for paying rent.
- Renters retain their right to a choice of payment method.
- Renters can freely opt out without penalties or coercion by real estate agents.
Can I opt out?
Yes. You have a right to choose your payment method and a free option.
RAHU has supported our members to push back against rental payment apps with their real estate agents. RAHU members have previously received an apology and a new lease and didn’t have to use their payment app.
If you’re having any issues with your agent, we recommend that you contact us for support.
Don’t forget Renters’ rights are only as strong as our willingness to enforce them. Talking to your housemates, neighbours, friends and other comrades about your plans, concerns, and successes helps us all grow stronger.
Join RAHU: rahu.org.au/join