Real Estate Want Me to Sign up for 3rd Party App/Payment Platform

Hi People,

Just hoping for some advice/opinions on the following topic - I pay my rent via Direct Debit and as far as I'm concerned this works just fine but the real estate are hounding me to sign up to their "new and exciting payment platform" which involves handing over all my details to some new third party app and agreeing to all their terms and conditions.

From one of their many emails. (Not sure what "seize to exist" means) -

"Kolmeo is an Australian owned software company with a payment platform called Assembly, (Assembly is backed by Westpac), both companies are located in Melbourne. Please rest assured that the companies adhere to the Australian Privacy Act and take any privacy concerns you have seriously. Our technology is improving / being upgraded and the new payments platform needs your consent to pay funds to your nominated account or collect funds from you via direct debit / BPAY. This does mean moving forward from the 12th July your current means of payment will seize to exist."

I feel quite resistant to this, I have enough accounts/passwords/apps/etc in my life holding all my info and waiting for a data breach. I told them I am not interested, I am happy with the current arrangement and please stop asking me about it. Am I being a dufus?

Comments

  • +7 votes

    cease (not seize) - will no longer exist
    .

    • +20 votes

      Yeah I know, I was just pointing out their spelling mistake.

      • +15 votes

        you can put (sic) after the mistake to show that you were quoting it the original and are aware of the error

        • +13 votes

          Ahh so that's what that means!

          • +12 votes

            @Bruce76: Yeah it's a pretty (sic) way of dealing with the mistakes of others

      •  

        If they terminate direct debit/ BPay you can simply argue that you were reassured in an email that the current means of payments would seize, in order to exist

  • +22 votes

    They can’t force you to change and they must also offer other methods of payment.

    The rental provider must:

    1. provide at least one payment method where the renter doesn’t have to pay a fee (other than the renter’s own bank fees)

    2. allow the rent to be paid via the Commonwealth ‘Centrepay’ bill paying service or another form of electronic funds transfer

    3. make the renter aware of any fees that may be incurred by using the agreed payment method (such as dishonour fees)

    Any changes to how rent is paid must be agreed between the renter and rental provider.

    Source

    • +6 votes

      Unfortunately you are incorrect. They absolutely can force tenants to change. The relevant clause in the Lease will address this. Landlord can withdraw consent to accept BPAY payments or direct debit provided it does not breach any agreement overwise in the Lease.

      Not sure which state OP is in but this question has been decided many times at VCAT where as long as the real estate agent offers one payment method that is fee free, be it cash, bank cheque at their office or via post, they are not required to offer an electronic payment method that is fee free and are entitled to recover the appropriate costs of offering that service.

      Please note I don't agree with the use of third party payment providers, but unfortunately this is the position OP (and many others) are in.

      • +1 vote

        Thanks zeggie, yeah I think they can probably do it and there's nothing I can do about it.

      •  

        Interesting, but does that only apply if it's written into a contract?

        •  

          You'll find nearly all Leases will have a precedent clause to cover the Landlord.

          If a Landlord/property manager varied the clause (ie. actually put bank account details/BPAY in the Lease) you'd maybe have a leg to stand on in requiring they accept that form of payment for the remaining term of the Lease.

  • +4 votes

    Nuh, I wouldn't surrender control unless there was some benefit to me.

    Read Methods of Payment at:
    https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing/renting/rent-bond-bi...

    …and sorry about the whole dufus thing. lol

  • +6 votes

    Ask if they will cover the costs of time and effort to if Kolmeo Pty Ltd has any cyber breach. It also looks like Kolmeo only recently launched and as such it may have issues.

    You may also want to look up their ABN.

    • +1 vote

      Yeah and they have just one review on the Google Playstore and that is one star.

      •  

        I had to complete the registration process for it (Kolmeo) since my agent mentioned that "This is a mandatory requirement as the technology is changing shortly and we appreciate you completing this process at your earliest convenience". :(

  • +15 votes

    3rd party payment system would ring alarm bells to me, what happens if they go out of business and you lose your money while they are holding on to it ?

    All i see are downsides with no upsides for you whatsoever.

    • +2 votes

      If it goes down and you have transaction records of sending money, the people that will lose are the agent? Why would it be the renter's fault for using their payment processor?

      •  

        Because as a renter you're always in the wrong or at fault while the RE and LL are just battlers trying to make a dollar.
        I'd be wanting to avoid any new startup third party payment system thats for sure.

  • +11 votes

    F that.

  • +4 votes

    Is this fight worth risking an unjust eviction?

    These services are real estate's version of ticket master. They are shadow services designed to charge owners and renters more. Examples:

    Inform renters of ""convenience fees" above rent after the contracts are signed.
    Platforms don't accept advanced payments and have dishonor fees. No grace periods, just a $20 fine.
    Double dips. Landlords are charged a "convenience fee" too.
    Agent's don't have access to the system, so if the system delays payment (so they can ern interest on the millions they are handling), the agent starts hounding the clients for late payment.
    The ledger can be dodgy. One backdates required bond amount with rent increases to the start of the lease. Agent's hound clients for ridiculously late payments.

    These services are a no brainier for real estates as they out source admin while directly charging the clients to do so.

    Then there is the on selling of private data and the ability to collect private data by forcing app installation.

    This 3rd party app you are being forced to use might be fine. But I am sure one of the main selling point of this system is gradual increase to service fees as adoption increases and this additional fee becomes a norm.

    • +13 votes

      Is this fight worth risking an unjust eviction?

      The landlord isn't going to evict someone who has always done the right thing, and paid rent on time. This is to make life easier for the agent.

      I fought against a similar thing, shock horror, no eviction. Rental agents are lazy scumbags, a landlord isn't going to want to evict someone over mildly inconveniencing the them.

  • +13 votes

    Just another parasite leeching more fees from the consumer for no added benefits to your existing payment method

  • +3 votes

    This does mean moving forward from the 12th July your current means of payment will seize to exist."

    This is rubbish. You are entitled to options. This is just to make RE's job easier.

    Seize to exist

    Just like Bon Apple Tea

    •  

      lol

  • +5 votes

    Thanks for your input everybody. Glad to hear you generally believe this to be at least mildly outrageous and it's not just me being a defiant luddite. Not sure if I'll die on this hill, might have to see what the RTA have to say.

  • +1 vote

    Ignore the email. But read up on your rights.

  • +1 vote

    Put a note in your diary to check what happens to your payment after 12th July.
    Based on what they've said they could well not take your direct debit if they have really changed systems - in which case if you don't pay after then you will owe late fees and risk eviction etc. If your first payment after that date doesn't leave your account then you may have no choice but to sign up to this third party service or pop into their office with cash etc!

  • +5 votes

    The land owning class are now really starting to squeeze the renters. Pretty soon Australia will be a two class society - those that own a home and those that don't. This is bad because all government policies in the future will favour owners and non owners will be reduced to paupers.

    • +3 votes

      This isn’t landlords that want this… I’m a landlord and a renter, and I would change agents if I found out they were charging my tenants fees like this. I think it’s utterly absurd. As a renter, we were told they prefer this stupid payment system and thankfully had no issues using direct deposit.

  •  

    I also have to use a 3rd party app. Now I used to pay by the month I.E 4 weeks the 5 weeks on months that had more weeks. Now the third party app averages the year out so although I am paying the same yearly rate the weekly rate goes up to average out the 5 week months. If that makes sense.

    •  

      That is because one thing is paying an agreed amount per month (monthly) and a different one is paying an agreed amount for a week (weekly)

      If you pay 4 weeks and call that a month, then at the end of the year you are getting almost a free month (27, or 28 if it is a leap year, days).

      Every single month, bar February unless it is a leap year.

      So you were in effect paying for 28 days while getting 2 and 3 days "free" every month. So landlords under that system were a month worse of.

      If the agreement was monthly, then fair enough, but if it was weekly, that admin person deserved to be substituted by an app.

  •  

    If they force you to use some such platform, simply pay in cash instead. I can’t see how they can force you to, it goes against you being in control of your own finances imho. Shouldn’t be be able to force you.

  • +1 vote

    I'm absolutely not a lawyer, but if I was paying my rent to an agency via X method, and they informed me they were going to use a third party to collect the rent, I'd ask them for a documented agreement that they were appointing the third party as their agent, and ask for their "x-method" details to tell my bank/diary/however I've handled it until now.

    How could they refuse? It's my money they collect for the owner, at which point it becomes the owners. They are merely the fingerprints on the owner's transaction.

  • +13 votes

    I’d look into the T&Cs of this platform carefully. Below is an email I received from the Barefoot Investor’s mailing list. No matter what your opinion is of him and what he does, I think he makes a good point, and these platforms can be unfair and prey on vulnerable people. I know the platform you’re referring to isn’t Rental Rewards, but you’ve got to question their strategy.

    As a private landlord, I would never sign up to a platform that disadvantaged my tenants, either cash or time wise.

    Hi ,

    Being a renter must suck right now.

    After all, you’re sitting on the property sidelines watching house prices go up, up, up.

    If only there was a reward for renters.

    Well, it turns out there is. It’s a fast-growing scheme called ‘Rental Rewards’, which many of Australia’s leading real estate agencies have signed up to.

    Here’s how it works: real estate agents outsource their rent-collecting to Rental Rewards, who charge renters a fee to pay their rent, and reward them with Qantas Frequent Flyer points.

    On their website the company describes their service as “revolutionary”, “convenient” and “rewarding”.

    Yet on the popular ProductReview website, customers of Rental Rewards describe it as: “Absolutely terrible”, “So bad I can’t believe it exists” and “Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!”

    (And, in the interests of fairness, I’m not cherrypicking the data: Rental Rewards has 31 one-star reviews and they are all universally terrible.)

    Mandy, a reader, wrote to me explaining how it affects her:

    “I used to pay my rent by direct transfer for free. But my property manager just informed me I am being migrated over to this third-party platform, Rental Rewards, that charges a fee. I chose the cheapest option —$78 a year — but some of the credit card options work out to be $312 a year, on top of rent. And their ‘fee-free’ option? Personal cheque! Which my bank charges for, and the rental office is over an hour away.”

    WOW!

    In most states in Australia the Rental Code requires that real estate agents provide at least one fee-free way of paying rent. Rental Rewards gets around it by accepting cheques. Yet the only person I know who still has a chequebook is my uncle Bob, a cocky from Walpeup, and even he’s thinking it might be time to call stumps on the bark and biro!

    So let’s unpack this for a moment.

    First up, Rental Rewards encourages often vulnerable low-income renters to pay their rent with a CREDIT CARD, in order to utilise their ‘interest-free days’.

    And if you think my eye is twitching right now, and that I am POUNDING THE KEYBOARD, you are right!

    Yet let me simmer down for a moment, because their website promises renters will earn “1,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points every year when you pay by card”.

    Given I famously don’t have a credit card, and don’t play the points game, the truth is I had no idea whether this was a good deal or not. So I jumped on to the Qantas Rewards Store to see what I could buy with a year’s worth of Rental Rewards points.

    I wanted to buy something practical, like, say, hair removal. Alas, it wasn’t even a close shave: the fancy Philips shaver cost 69,000 points … taking 69 years of paying rent to earn enough with Rental Rewards. Again, I’m not cherry-picking the data: there was NOTHING on the Qantas Store for sale for 1,000 points.

    Enough already.

    Look, as a financial counsellor I’m regularly in the trenches with vulnerable people.

    Think about a young mum with three school-aged kids who has escaped family violence. She struggles to pay her $350 a week in rent. One day her property manager tells her that from now on she’ll be hit with a 1.45% processing fee for Rental Rewards (the standard fee they have on their website). That’s an extra $264 a year she’ll have to pay.

    Now, for you and me $264 may be a nice dinner out with friends. For her it’s a year’s worth of second-hand school uniforms and shoes for the kids.

    It’s a lot of money.

    Worse, she’s powerless in this situation because she doesn’t want to upset her rental manager and risk them not renewing her lease.

    One last thing: the Qantas Store shows that a Bunnings $100 gift card costs 23,170 points. Which suggests the value of a Qantas point is currently around $0.004 cents. In other words, those 1,000 rewards points that cost our single mum $263 a year are worth a measly $4 bucks.

    Look, can you do me a favour?

    There are a lot of smart people who read this column. If you’re a property investor (or you know someone who is), I want you to ring up your real estate agent and ask whether they are signed up to Rental Rewards. And if they are, ditch them. Take your business to somebody who respects the person who’s paying off your asset.

    Rental Rewards have been approached for comment.

  •  

    Resist as long as you can. I think this story is pretty much the same as the post above.

    I'm also not too happy about the push everywhere on to third party platforms and the extra fees. Kids school does it too, slowly trying to push you to pay on Flexischools (which then hits you with a service fee and credit card fee)

  • +2 votes

    Direct debit is the most widely accepted form of payment for rents and many other recurring payments/services

    No need to change from that

  • +1 vote

    Absolute crap. It's just extra expenses for renters. LJ hooker made us do that for our previous apartment. No benefit of using 3rd party payment agent. Never getting apartment from them or any RE agents that makes me use third parry app

  • +1 vote

    Just another example of greedy REA drumming up fees while doing 0 work. Direct debit is simple and works but they obviously want to double-dip and steal your details while they're at it. There's literally no point to the program except to earn the REA extra dosh and make their life easier and more convenient (as if it isn't) while making yours harder.

  • +1 vote

    Some go so far as threatening to sue Pape for an article he wrote. Can’t wait for that. Let’s see their business practices examined in court. Dare ya!

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jun/17/it-st...

  • +2 votes

    The last time I rented a place about 7/8 years ago they wanted me to sign up to one of these 3rd party payment systems. I flat out refused, as I thought it was outrageous to have to pay a fee to pay your rent.

    In QLD they have to offer at least two methods of paying your rent. The other option given was to pay with cheque, so every 2 weeks I’d walk the dog up to the real estate and hand over a cheque and make them write me a receipt.

    Did that for about 2 years and then bought a place.

    •  

      And with most rent paid monthly, 12 times a year isn’t a big deal. Stuff them.

      This is how they keep you down. Fees to pay rent, fees for neg balances, fees for this, fees for that. These things usually mostly impact those that can lease afford it.

  • +1 vote

    Life hack ING will issue cheques for free if the amount is over $1000

  •  

    Show them this thread, if this won’t change their mind - then bikies.

  • +5 votes

    If the fee-free option is paying cash in office, and you want to make their life hard/you have spare time, keep in mind what is considered legal tender.

    If my understanding is correct, you should make your payments (keeping in mind that you can get coins in rolls from the bank):
    *$5 of 5c coins
    *$10 of $1 coins
    *$20 of $2 coins
    *And the balance in $5 notes (loose).

    That will make them shut up and give you deposit details to make the deposit directly instead of making you come in.

    • +1 vote

      Finally - someone recommending paying in coins but ensuring they pay legal tender!

      •  

        Oh damn. Stuffed up the bullet points. Bugger.

    •  

      Know exactly what you are thinking but there is an easy way to combat that by charging an admin fee for accepting cash payments. I know of at least 1 company that does that and it put a stop to legit cash payments.

    •  

      A good idea but would probably lead you to being blacklisted which would make it difficult to rent in the future. It really is disgusting how much power the real estate agents hold. I don't rent anymore but have also had a deep hatred for real estate agents.

  •  

    I was able to fight this off years back. The real estate agency got sold and the new owner attempted this on me. I refused and they gave me their bank details. I don't think that in the current environment in Melbs where I am agents would be interested in starting wars with good tenants.
    To me this basically is a variety of scam.

  •  

    I would try pretty hard to avoid the third party. We were forced to use one of these services (iPayRent) for a while and it ended up causing such a headache for both us and the property manager that they eventually just gave us a bank account to deposit into each month. I think they push all new clients to the services as it limits their liability in case you are delinquent.

    Anyway, we were using direct debit with this service as that was the cheapest and it was fine until one month we were on holiday and one of us needed some emergency dental work so we had a large unexpected expense the same time the rent was coming out. Due to the time difference, we didn't manage to put the money back into the account in time and so missed our payment. iPayRent were useless and didnt help us trigger the direct debit again. The property manager was useless and couldn't trigger another payment. So we were stuck in this weird situation where we had the money to pay the rent, but couldn't pay it! In the end, we transferred it directly.

    If we were always paying our rent via transfer, we would have got a notification that we didnt have enough money for the transfer, moved some money around, transfer to the real estate agents and move on with our lives. Instead, we had TWO WEEKS of emails (while on holiday too) before sorting this out.

  •  

    i just had a look at the app, heres a few things i notice,
    1. Its not compatible with any device i have and i have devices ranging from Samsung TAB S 10 to Note 20 Ultra ~ red flag if top end devices arent supported,
    2. It doesnt have security payment information listed even on their website or at least not what i could find
    3. only reviews on their site and app are that the software doesnt work

    under consumer law you can reject any payment method in which you feel your information is not secure with, i would speak to someone in ACCC and Fair Trading in regards to this new decision, while yes a realtor or landlord has to offer one method that is fee free the current Australian economy is moving away from cash so digital will most likely be required,

    This app and website has way to may downsides to warrant risking my payment information i would not suggest you taking the risk either.

  •  

    Real estate is a rotten industry with lots of dodgy characters.
    Doesn't mean there aren't good agents, but they are rare and often not the decision makers.

    I would be very sceptical of anything an agent tells you unless it's in writing.
    And if you email them and they call you back, don't answer, just say your in a meeting or busy, etc.

    I'm sure this payment system is in their favour as its very unlikely they would simply implement it to 'help their tenants'.

  • +1 vote

    Just finished emailing our REA to demand direct payment details. I don’t have a FB, IG, or Gmail account with my personal info so no chance I am giving it up to pay my rent when direct transfer has been fine until now.

    It is such a joke that everything is constantly outsourced, sold as being a benefit but just adds steps, paperwork, and costs.