1 December 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Welfare groups are calling for a ban on third-party rental payment apps that some real estate agents are forcing tenants to use, reportedly costing tenants up to $500 a year. While law requires that these apps, which add around $10 a week to rental bills, can only be used if landlords and tenants agree—and tenants must be provided with a free payment option—many tenants have reported their frustration that this cost burden has simply been added onto their weekly bills without appropriate consultation.
My question to the minister therefore is: given we know that the cost of rent continues to rise in South Australia, and that lower and modest income renters continue to be the hardest hit, is the minister aware of this practice of mandating the use of the app and its impact on the most vulnerable renters in our state, and will the minister commit to taking the issue of strengthening the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure this kind of practice does not occur to the relevant minister, the Attorney-General?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. I probably should correct his direction. I am not the minister for housing, I am the Minister for Human Services. Within the portfolio, I am responsible for public and social housing and some assistance for private renters, but housing generally sits across a number of portfolios and various levels of government.
In relation to the matters that he has raised about using apps, which is an expense that's falling to tenants, I am aware of this through having read media reports. I don't recall whether there was a response from Consumer and Business Services, which is responsible for managing private rents. I will certainly take the matter to the Attorney-General, who is responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act, for a response from that agency.