This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Published: February 2022

Rental apps

You have the legal right to pay your rent without additional charges. If you feel pressured to sign up to a rental payment app that has additional charges, or that you are unsure about, this page sets out steps you can take to respond.

Issues with rental apps

Some renters are being told they need to use a rental application (app) to pay their rent. Some of the apps are:

  • Kolmeo
  • OurProperty
  • RentPay
  • Rental Rewards

But there can be issues with rental apps. These include:

  • Charging additional fees if rent is paid in certain ways, such as by BPay or credit card
  • Charging additional fees when there is an error in the payment, or in other circumstances
  • Having terms and conditions that allow the app to use your data in ways you do not want, such as giving your details to ‘promotional partners’

Rental apps – read the fine print

It’s always useful to read the fine print. Here are the terms and conditions and privacy policies for these 4 apps.

What the law says

The rental provider (landlord), or agent, may be breaking the law if they insist on you using a rental app to pay rent.

Ways to pay rent

Under the law the rental provider must allow you to pay rent:

  • In a way that does not result in you being charged any extra fees, apart from your usual bank fees
  • By electronic funds transfer (EFT) and, if you are receiving Centrelink payments, by Centrepay [section 42, regulation 19]

It is against the law – and an offence – if a rental provider does not give you an option to pay rent in a way that does not result in you being charged any extra fees [section 42].

It is also against the law – and an offence – for rental providers, agents, or anyone else, including a third-party service provider such as a rental app, to charge for the first issue of a rent payment card or for establishing or using direct debit facilities for rent payments [section 51].

For more information on paying rent see the heading ‘Rent’ on our page Starting a tenancy.

Note that all the sections in brackets on this page, such as [section 42], refer to Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. References in brackets to regulations, such as [regulation 19], are to the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. See the bottom of this page for links to all of these.

Prohibited terms

It against the law – and an offence – for a rental provider, or their agent, to include a prohibited term in a rental agreement (lease) [section 26A].

Prohibited terms include any that require you to:

  • Pay rent in advance in a way that forces you to pay fees, apart from your usual bank fees
  • Use the services of a third-party service provider (except for an ‘embedded energy network provider’, where power is supplied jointly such as to an apartment block) [section 27B, regulation 11]

If a prohibited term is included in a rental agreement it will be ‘void’ and cannot be enforced by the rental provider [section 26A].

If the rental provider refuses to remove any prohibited terms you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which can order that a term in your rental agreement is ‘invalid’ [section 28, section 472].

For more information see the heading ‘Prohibited terms’ on our page Rental agreements (leases).

Misrepresentations

It is an offence for someone to make a false or fraudulent misrepresentation or statement about your rights and duties under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 or your rental agreement [section 501].

For example, if the rental provider or agent tells you that you must use a rental app to pay rent this could be a misrepresentation under the law, particularly if they do not give you any other option to pay rent in a way that does not make you pay any extra fees, which is your right.

It is also generally prohibited to engage in false or misleading conduct in relation to the sale of goods and services under the Australian Consumer Law [section 18, Schedule 2, Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Commonwealth)].

Reporting offences

You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they failed to follow the law.

You can call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 558 181.

Alternatively, you can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria online.

Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria

Template letter

If you have been requested or required to use a rental app by your agent or rental provider and want to challenge this, you can use our template letter.

Further questions

If the template letter does not apply in your particular circumstances, or you have further questions, please contact us or your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) service.

Resources

Related pages

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