High Wycombe landlord fined $24,000 for offences

A LANDLORD who spent tenants’ security bonds, harassed a tenant and took too much rent money up front has been fined $24,000 after Consumer Protection prosecuted him for breaching tenancy laws.

Carl Raymond Olsen (37), of Meekatharra, who owned and leased out a property in High Wycombe in 2013 and 2014, failed to appear at the Midland Magistrates Court to face charges on October 27.

He was found guilty of 13 contraventions of the Residential Tenancies Act in his absence and in addition to a $24,000 fine, he was ordered to pay costs of $462.

Consumer Protection Acting Commissioner Gary Newcombe said it was important to take legal action after receiving tenants’ complaints.

“Mr Olsen took bonds from three tenants and failed to deposit the money with the Bond Administrator at the Department of Commerce.

“The law ensures that a tenant’s bond money is secure and will not be misused, so private landlords as well as agents need to lodge the funds with the Bond Administrator as soon as practicable and certainly no later than 14 days.

“Tenants need to be assured that their funds they hand over are safe and secure,” he said.

“Mr Olsen would also constantly turn up unannounced and uninvited when one tenant was renting his property and he harassed her via phone calls and texts.

“A landlord must respect a tenant’s right to privacy, peace and comfort. Notice of no less than seven days and no more than 14 days must be given for any routine inspections, which have to be at a reasonable and convenient time and can only be carried out four times a year. Even in the case of inspecting necessary repairs, 72 hours written notice is required.

“On top of this Mr Olsen made tenants pay him four to six weeks’ rent up front when a landlord is not legally allowed to take more than two weeks rent in the first two weeks.

“Preventing tenants from being forced to pay more than a fortnight’s rent in advance was one of the important changes to the Residential Tenancies Act in July 2013 to help ease financial pressures when renting a home in WA,” Commissioner Newcombe said.

Olsen was also charged over the incorrect forms when putting new tenancy agreements in writing, not providing receipts for rental payments and insisting on receiving a bond in excess of what is allowed.