It seems the Western Australian government's planned shake-up of tenancy laws can't come soon enough, with some of the state's rental property managers still advertising properties without a fixed price.
The government announced an impending ban on the practice back in May.
"Price on Application," reads a listing for a five-bedroom house in Perth's chic inner-city suburbs.
One local wasn't having it though: "This should be illegal for rentals," the disgruntled Reddit user vented, sharing a screenshot of the listing.
There was no shortage of fellow Perth residents outraged by the listing.
"POA for a rental? F**k that noise. Property managers truly are the scummiest grubs going around," responded one.
"Price on application. AKA a bidding war," offered a second.
So, how much is the rent?
Others suggested working out the weekly rent based on the advertised bond of $5,200.
"The max they can take for the bond is four weeks' rent. It's about $1,300 a week to rent this place," a user replied.
"The Residential Tenancy Act limits the amount of bond that can be taken and it must be lodged with the Bond Administrator," a spokesperson for the Consumer Protection Division of Commerce WA explained to Yahoo Finance.
"A bond cannot exceed four weeks' rent so it would indicate that the rent is $1,300 per week. The bond being advertised is a strong indicator that the rent is known and fixed."
However, when contacted about the rent, the real estate agent quoted the price of $1,450 per week, $150 more than the advertised bond would suggest.
Laws to stop agents encouraging rent bidding
In May, the WA government announced sweeping new changes to the state's tenancy laws, earmarking long-awaited reforms that would ban rental bidding, make it easier for tenants to have pets, limit rent increases to one per year, and require all rental properties to be advertised at a fixed price.
However, as these reforms won't be introduced until 2024, Yahoo Finance understands that — for the moment at least — "price on application" rental listings in Western Australia remain legal.
"The listing has not asked for offers and there is no suggestion that rent-bidding is being encouraged, so there is nothing illegal in the advertising as it stands," the Consumer Protection Division of Commerce spokesperson confirmed.
Even so, the spokesperson said the government remained committed to its slated rental reforms.
"Recently, the WA government became aware of lessors and property managers/agents asking or encouraging prospective tenants to pay more than the advertised rental amount, known as "rent bidding", the spokesperson explained.
"This practice drives up rental prices and contributes to rental unaffordability, which is a significant problem placing stress on tenants."
Agents could still accept higher offers
The spokesperson added that the Government was still in the process of developing legislation to prohibit the solicitation of rental bidding in WA within the following framework:
A rented premises must be advertised or listed for rent at a fixed amount only and not in a range
Lessors or their agents must not solicit rent bids but may accept offers above the advertised rent freely offered by the prospective tenant
Monetary penalties apply for breach of the provisions
Indeed, if a tenant proposes offering a higher rent, then, under the pending legislation, a landlord or their agent must respond along the lines of: "I am not permitted to ask or encourage you to offer more than the advertised rent. You need to make your own decision about the rent you want to pay."
The agency that manages the Perth property has not responded to Yahoo Finance's request for comment about the listing, and the home is no longer on the rental market.