Rent Card schemes - Pay your Rent a New Way - Too Good to be True

Hot from the Real Estate Agent in Cairns at 5:40pm Mon 22/10/18 just after close of business. This might just be true!

Is this the deal of the century?
Or is it too good to be true?
Even better if you recently renewed your 12 month lease and were not asked at the time to change how you paid.

Given the personal details attached to the email (not shown here in full) it must be from the agent or THEIR DATA BASE has been hacked?

READ ON AS FOLLOWS:

Tabitha Grullis

Property Manager

tabitha@freemans.property

0400xxxxxx

Hi Alexander, TWO important items to share that impact you and your rental property. 1. SimpleDiscounts program for YOU 2. The Ways to Pay Rent Changes - Take Action TODAY (impacts all tenants)

  1. SimpleDiscounts for Tenants
    We are about to release our New Tenant SimpleDiscounts program that will save you 3% to >20% off over 22 National retailers and a host of other local businesses.

Examples below, access a $200 digital store gift card to use as cash instore and save. Purchase cards as low as $50 to enjoy discounts.

Profile Pic

Profile Pic
DAN MURPHY’s
SAVE $6.18

Profile Pic
WOOLIES
SAVE $6.18

Profile Pic
CALTEX PETROL
SAVE $6.18

Profile Pic
PRICELINE
SAVE $5.98

Profile Pic
SUPERCHEAP
SAVE $5.98

Profile Pic
JB HI-FI
SAVE $5.98
Straight up discounts also available with more businesses joining each week.

FULL List of Retailers and SAVINGS here

Forecast Average household SAVINGS $25 per week

Forecast Average household SAVINGS $1,300 per year

Access to the Program is aligned to us changing the way we accept payments for processing rent and other transactions.

We hope you will LOVE the savings as much as we do and would like to thank you in advance as we switch our banking provider.

  1. The Ways to Pay Rent Changes
    Please Take Action Today
    IMPORTANT: From the Week Commencing 6th November , the way we will be accepting payments for Rent and other invoices will change to:

  2. Bank Account Direct Debit $1.25 per transaction (best value)

  3. Recurring Visa/MasterCard Payments 1.98% (great way to earn FF points)

PLEASE NOTE: The current payments options of “Direct Deposit into Trust Account” will soon, NO LONGER be available.

On the NEXT PAGE you will be able to set up your new

RENT PAYMENT OPTIONS with the following CHOICES:

  1. Payment method

  2. Frequency, Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

SET UP Rent Payments HERE
Important information - Please read

*** If you are currently using Centrepay please disregard this e-mail.

It is important that you please update the way you pay the rent so we may ensure that no payments are missed and you remain paid to date.

We appreciate that you are busy and we will therefore send regular SMS and e-mails to remind you that this change is occuring. These notifications will stop as soon as your payment option is set up.

We apologise in advance should any of your details be incorrect and appreciate your understanding while we work to provide you with a better service. Please let us know via e-mail and we will update your records at our earliest convenience.

PLEASE NOTE:
Although all due care has been taken to ensure the correct Paid to Date is listed within SimpleRent this is indicative only and may have changed subject to any payments that you may have made into our Trust Account in the past 72 hours.
For your peace of mind: Our Agency Trust Accounting Software will at all times have the accurate Paid to Date as part of your ongoing tenancy ledger, and can be provided to you at any time.

Thank you in advance, we are very grateful to have you as one of our loyal tenants and looking forward to further extending the options and savings to you via the SimpleDiscounts program which will become available to you once your rent payment schedule has been set up.

We look forward to you joining SimpleRent as a valued Tenant.
Best regards

Tabitha Grullis

Property Manager

tabitha@freemans.property
0400xxxxxx
P.S. They say no one likes change…that is unless it is your choice or you are saving a bunch of money :slight_smile:

How will you spend the money you can save through SimpleDiscounts?

I am definitely planning a mini break :slight_smile:
P.P.S. Click here to get set up

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This particular clause does not make sense when the alternate offer says

If the blurb is correct there are many national agents who facilitate tenancies that are changing how they do business and no longer accepting payments from tenants. Perhaps this is totally legal and the agents can change how they are paid unilaterally?

Note you will no longer be able to direct deposit, you need to set up a direct debit or credit card payment. The Real estate agent can unilaterally change the value of the payment at any time. What if you do not agree?

More reason to wonder why?

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This appears to be the marketing being presented to agents to encourage them to outsource rent collection.
It’s all free to the agent who can earn 15c for every transaction through the system.

https://simplerent.com.au/homepage-2/

No parent company details, no ACN, no phone contact details and no street address, but on other web pages there is an option to leave you contact details so they may contact you.

From the marketing to the agents:

Easy rent increase

Imagine this, rent goes up by $15. You change the rent amount in SimpleRent, set the start date for the change. Then SimpleRent automatically notifies the tenant of the change and adjusts all future payments. Done in 60 seconds!

Neutralise costs

As a 3rd Party system, Agencies can pass the cost of transactions to the tenant to ensure the full amount of rent, bond and bills are accessible for the landlord. SimpleRent keeps you compliant with the latest rules on surcharge from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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That’s an interesting case @mark_m, and no doubt a bit trickier to navigate for the unwary due to personal details being used. Either way, it’s a concern - thanks for sharing, I’ll be sure to pass this on to my colleagues as well.

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Also the “SimpleRent” system is just a copy of others and may also be a further subsidiary of another rent collection scheme.

There are some problems with these operations but the main one is that even if your money is withdrawn by the agent (in this case SimpleRent) until it is in your Real Estate’s account your payment is not counted against your tenant’s ledger. So if the money goes “missing” between the agent and your Real Estate you can be given a “Remedy to Breach” for failure to pay your rent and the possibility of getting evicted is real.

The further difficulty is then getting your money back from the agent and can take some doing. If they fail to withdraw the money due to an error on their part or because of some other failure again you can be in a quandary. The charges for a Direct Debit fail due to insufficient funds can be very harsh.

The RTA do state some rules about having a “fee free option” to pay and we chose to use Money Orders (additional cost) rather than risk failure of the agent. The pitfalls are many of these agent systems.

Choice has written an article on the matter that covers the issues and why RE Agents prefer these agent systems:

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While the agent concerned is yet to respond, the Qld RTA advised the agent can only vary the method of payment with the voluntary agreement of the tenant during the fixed term of any agreement.

The current tenancy agreement provides for the tenant to pay by EFT directly to the agents BSB and trust account. This is how payment has been made. The letter from the agent withdrawing this facility may be in breech of state legislation.

The tactics involved in the promotion of this third party (rent/debt collection business) could not be more wrong! And yes, it is alarming that the practice has been the subject of a Choice article referring to states other than Qld.

The Qld RTA phone line suggested the Qld Govt is currently seeking input?

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Freeman’s was a long established real estate agency which originally traded as Les Freeman Real Estate and was owned by Les Freeman.

When he retired, he sold the business and the new owner traded as Freemans.

It must have changed owners in recent times as there is a new principal listed on their website.

The current staff includes one person whom I would not trust half as far as I could throw them.

In any case, I would have expected that the rent would have to be deposited into a trust account just like real estate purchase deposits and payments for motor vehicles sold on consignment.

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Thanks Fred. The unqualified promotion of savings of $1,300 pa appears to be deceptive and misleading. In hind sight it appears conditional on how you make certain choices to spend your consumer dollar with. It has the authorship of one of the staff of the business clearly attached. You have to question who the business values most in this situation, the clients, the customers or consumer protections?

The letter issued does not make it clear whether the savings accrue for all or any method of payment. It only lists two?

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Round two update.

The rental agency returned today 24th Oct, a call made yesterday morning seeking clarification.

Surprisingly the agency staffer provided the advice that they would be closing within six months the account, the details of which were listed specifically on the rental agreement for tenants to make EFT payments to.

Further the agent indicated that after the account was closed payments could only be made through the new nominated system (third party), and asked for an email response acknowledging the advice.

Enough said!

There will be an email response, with a different understanding.

I’d be happy to reiterate a call I’ve made elsewhere on Choice. We need a consumer police person who turns up in such circumstances and fixes the issue there and then. Leaving it for an arms length slow moving consumer protection system that chooses not to step forward, but hides behind a phone and vague advice is not sufficient protection for many consumers.

The agent knows what they are trying to con customers into. It should never be an issue that we put others in a position where it is a battle of minds or life skills against a business with sharp minded and talented sales staff. What penalty for the individual staffer if this goes sour? Perhaps only a bonus if they fail to change the contract, not a conviction for acting inappropriately.

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Will they accept Bank Cheques or AusPost Money orders? If so that may be a larger cost for you but better protection re delayed transfers of payments etc. If they say no I think the RTA may be interested as you could raise a dispute with the RE agent through them. If the RTA find in your favour the RE may not renew your lease next time, and then you could raise another dispute under unfair termination.

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Thanks @grahroll,

The acceptable methods are per original post. Direct debit or credit card or nothing. Payment must after the 6 Nov be made to the third party, and not the agent. The EFT option to the agent may remain for a little longer but no more than 6 months is now the verbal feedback,

The other options do not exist. The RTA legislation brief does not specify to whom the payment must be made, just the options for how.

It may not be clear if this is a breach of the legislation. Noting also the agent cannot vary the method of payment unilaterally as it is a major variation. This is the initial advice we have from RTA. Given today’s response from the agent that they will not be accepting EFT per the rental agreement it seems very clear.

Separate to dealing with the agent personally (noting the tenant is one of our family, who has asked for assistance), I’ve lodged a request with the RTA to contact me again to discuss further.

From previous experience the Qld RTA prefers tenants to resolve matters directly with agents, while providing limited advice on the legislation. If not resolved the RTA will then provide access to a dispute resolution.

The outsourcing of rent collection appears to take the rent collection outside of the legislation, enabling tenants to be charged added fees based on how a payment is made. There appear to be penalties for late or defaulted payments and no ability of a tenant to withhold payment of any disputed added charges as the control of the payment is handed over to the recurring credit card debit or direct bank debit. A tenant can dispute a charge but has to win the argument and seek credit or reinbursement is how this appears to work.

The exact details and conditions require a tenant to proceed to the sign up web links. I’m relying on the general web marketing spiel for the intent of this plan from the agent.

I’ve placed the posts here as a tale of the evolution of a consumer issue, as well as welcoming comment on what is happening. If the challenge is successful the shared experience may help someone else. If it fails, then it opens another door to question how the Qld State Govt and the state Tenancy legislation can fail tenants by allowing inappropriate behaviour by agents.

Note the agent specifically exempts tenants using Centrepay from the change. Obviously the correct action, but why should any tenant using Centrepay have received the correspondence advising them of the change. It only adds confusion. Or is it an attempt to dangle a carrot and encourage them off that option when possible? Dodgy in my mind.

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Perhaps the tenant/s could ask the Landlord directly re options to pay them and remove the RE agent out of the equation?

I still find it difficult to believe the RE agent is stubborn about being paid by secure means eg a Bank Cheque. How do they then deal with property purchasers? Certainly if forced to go this new way then asking for a copy of the tenant ledger every payment date and requiring them to complete a Trust Account receipt for said payments are certainly options to increase their workload.

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Stubborn? No!

Not negotiable? Yes!

Will update with how they respond to the option of the RTA providing the solution! It may take a few days for this thought to penetrate the dense tropical air typical of Cairns approaching the wet season.

The option of a direct agreement with the landlord is a great one, dependant on the landlord’s attitude and circumstance. It is in the basket of actions now. I know several landlords who will tenant direct and others who have little interest in the best outcomes for their tenants. The latter only as acquaintances and not as good friends. Name and shame personally in the public sphere is best left to parliamentary privilege?

Just worth noting real estate letting agents have an obligation to act in the best interests of the client (owner), and to act lawfully?

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A simple update - on SimpleDiscounts rent payment brought to you by SimpleRent

Learnings (Queensland specific)

  1. Payment through this or any other third party scheme, typically labeled as Rent Cards is voluntary. An agent can not compel any tenant to use such a method for payment.

  2. Any dispute concerning a tenant and rent collection businesses such as a Rent Card scheme is not covered by the RTA and state legislation. The RTA has no authority in any matters relating to the operation of these Rent Card schemes or businesses.

  3. In some ways the Rent Card schemes look more like a debt collection business.

  4. For SimpleRent and their product it is not immediately apparent who the parent company is, who the owner is, where their offices are, what their dispute resolution procedure is, or even if they are in Australia or pay Australian taxes?

  5. Property letting agents are required by law when offering a product such as a Rent Card system to provide at least two alternate means of paying rent selected from a list of prescribed ways nominated by legislation.

For our related issue with rent payments, reasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all great ones not to agree to a change in how Rent is paid.

The agent originally contrary to legislation offered no alternative for payment. After a phone discussion and email exchange rejecting the change the agent still intends to stop accepting EFT payments to their trust account. Two alternative methods have been offered, but neither are compliant methods.

There is little more to add. The RTA will be receiving a notice of dispute form 16.

It may be time for Choice to consider looking in more depth at these Rent Card schemes as they in Qld fall outside tenancy law and most likely fall under general consumer law. Are they good value? Are they secure? Are they fair and reasonable? Is the marketing honest or is it misleading and deceptive? They appear to operate in most states.
Edit: link to QLD RTA website added

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Two names are clearly mentioned in the Sites info, they are Matt Kesby and Sabrina Wilmes

Some links that may be of interest to you. I don’t use LinkedIn but if others do there are profiles of Matt Kesby & Sabrina Wimes there.

https://www.slideshare.net/JungleNights/simplerentcomau-sneak-peak-australia-webinar

https://au.linkedin.com/company/simplerent.com.au

https://au.linkedin.com/in/mattkesby

http://helpapp.simplerent.com.au/

https://au.linkedin.com/in/sabrina-wilmes-5439b3122

There is also clear reference to Tailor Pay (tailorpay.com.au) and Beauty Pay

Registration details for SimpleRent.com.au lists the Registrant details as NUPAY PTY LTD with ABN 48608427890 ACN 608427890 previously known as “The EFTPOS COMPANY Pty Ltd”

https://connectonline.asic.gov.au/RegistrySearch/faces/landing/panelSearch.jspx?searchText=608427890&searchType=OrgAndBusNm&_adf.ctrl-state=ulpupbkcj_15

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O/T, but relevant:

Sorry, but Bank Cheques are no more secure than personal cheques.

Bank Cheques only indicate that there is money in the account at the time the bank cheque is printed. The money can be withdrawn as soon as the cheque has been printed. Then when the recipient receives it, because there is no money in the account, the bank cheque bounces.

I know this to my cost, before learning the above from the bank when I questioned how i could be charged a dishonour fee by my bank for a Bank Cheque made out by the same bank.

I do not understand your experience with that bank cheque

In my experience, when we have had a bank cheque issued, the teller always transferred the funds from our account during creating the bank cheque.

However, when in business, I used to be able to ring our bank to obtain an “bank opinion” as to whether a party was good for payment of the amount of a transaction, irrespective of which bank they dealt with.

However, there was no guarantee that the debt would be paid or the cheque honoured.

On one occasion, I called our bank regarding a major construction company who used the same bank, and the bank claimed that they were good for the amount of over $2,000 which they owed to us.

The same day, the debtor called in the administrators. When I queried the bank as to what happened, the response was that they were only the day-to-day bank and not the bank or banks who had been financing the company. image

Thanks @meltam and @Fred123.
I’ve previous conflicting advice about bank cheques and their security.

In respect of payment for rent a bank cheque is a difficult process to use.

The RTA approved methods states - “cheque” without a qualifier, hence this is open in my view to being a personal cheque. “Cash” is another of the approved methods, however “money order” is not one. Although it might be agreeable to the agent and as @grahroll pointed out previously an inconvenience to the agent to process as well.

The additional information @grahroll has noted is interesting if you choose to follow it. It does not evolve into anything beneficial to a tenant.

Simplerent.com.au elects to set the direct debit from a tenants account or credit card 2 working days in advance of the due date to provide cleared funds by the due date. This may not have been necessary previously depending on who the agent banked with and how the tenant chose to pay.

Any add in charges for water cleaning etc are solely the agents responsibility and can be added directly by the agent to the direct debit without the immediate agreement or acceptance of the tenant.

The explanation of the tenant rewards scheme is not clear in what I read. It appears that by installing the SimpleRent rewards app on your mobile it enrolls you in Woolies rewards scheme and when you use the app to shop at Woolies you get Woollies points. Of course why not skip all that and just have a personal store card? It all seems a bit false?

I noted two other entities with reference to tenants payments:

At SimpleRent.com.au each of the Agencies using SimpleRent, enter into an agreement with our Australia Merchant Services provider IntegraPay.com.au

At SimpleRent, our parent entity The E Group Payments specialises in compliant surcharge systems.

I don’t know how necessary it is to try and unwrap all the entiry relationships at this time.

One key statement form the SimpleRent web page may be all that is needed to understand what the business model is based on:

All costs are covered by a surcharge to the tenant and the funds are guaranteed using the Visa/MasterCard/Amex service.

There is no need to mention the other incentives including what is possibly a disguised kickback to the agency principal on all transactions through the service. The fee for Visa etc at 1.98% might seem excessive. Amex is 4.11% if you dig down elsewhere.

Apologies if some of this is a repeat of what was evident previously.

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Rumour is the agent is reconsidering making any change our instance.

After which it will be SimpleRent or two other methods neither of which are compliant with the legislation? Money order or Bank Cheque.

It’s a guess previous adjudication by the RTA may have agreed these as suitable alternatives to the legislated methods. It remains unclear why they would be proposed contrary to the requirements of the act.

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Bank cheques are cheques issued by the bank and paid by the bank. They are different to personal checques which are issued by a person and paid using funds from that person’s account.

It is unlikely, unless there are unique reasons, for a bank not to honour its own bank cheque as the funds come from the bank for payment and not an individual’s account. The funds to cover the bank cheque are usually drawn from the persons account when the bank check is drafted. These funds then go to the working account of the bank in preparation for the bank cheque to be cashed. They are usually considered a safer snd more secure form of payment as it is the bank, not an individual, honouring the cheque.

This website possibly explains it better:

https://lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch10s05s02s08.php

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