Unclaimed bonds 'staggering'

By Shauni James, Kim Fulton

1 comment
Citizen Advice Bureau's Jane Eynon-Richards of bonds remain untouched is shocked by the figure. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Citizen Advice Bureau's Jane Eynon-Richards of bonds remain untouched is shocked by the figure. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

More than $600,000 worth of tenancy bonds have gone unclaimed in Rotorua, staggering local support agencies.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) figures show 2241 bonds were unclaimed in the Rotorua district at the end of last year.

This year, unclaimed bonds were worth $672,954.42. Figures showed 878 bonds worth $227,210.46 were uncollected.

A bond is considered unclaimed when tenancy ends and no claim is made within two months. It is considered uncollected where payment has been approved but the money not collected within two months.

Some bonds were counted in both sets of figures.

Rotorua Citizens Advice Bureau manager Jane Eynon-Richards said the value of the unclaimed bonds was staggering. "I would have thought there was quite an awareness at the moment in the community about being able to transfer their bonds and to get them back, so that figure really staggers me."

There had been a lot of international students coming through Rotorua and she wondered if they were unaware they could get their bond back.

"You'd think they would be because they need every cent they can get," she said.

The bureau could provide bond transfer or refund forms.

Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said reasons could be the owners or tenants going overseas or changing their details. He said the figures were extraordinary. "I would guess most real estates would say 90per cent of bonds are refunded within a few days."

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service public relations officer Pearl Pavitt said she was surprised at the figures. She said people may have forgotten the advanced payments that had been made. "I guess it goes back to education and knowing what type of contract you enter."

MBIE general manager of service support and design Mike West said common reasons for bonds remaining uncollected included invalid bank account details, returned cheques and not all parties confirming refund details.

He said there was a six-year limit on claiming a bond after a tenancy had ended. Many bonds included in the Ministry's figures had exceeded the six-year period. Ministry calculations suggested about 40per cent of unclaimed bonds could be claimed.

Any bonds which had been unclaimed for six years belonged to the Crown, and interest on unclaimed bonds went towards providing dispute resolution services, advice, information and education, and processing bond lodgements and refunds.

Unclaimed and uncollected bonds in Rotorua:

* Unclaimed: 2241 ($672,954.42).

* Uncollected: 878 ($227,210.46).

- Rotorua Daily Post

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