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Perth’s rental market might be tight right now, but that doesn’t mean tenants should accept living in a home that’s falling into disrepair, nor tolerate surprise visits by their landlords.
Unfortunately we have received an increased number of complaints about both scenarios. In 2021, Consumer Protection received 188 complaints relating to repair and maintenance issues and 29 complaints about unexpected visits, which are illegal.
When it comes to surprise visits, our complaints reveal claims of landlords and agents turning up unannounced for a variety of reasons, including maintenance issues and rent collection.
While there are separate rules relating to emergency or urgent repairs, generally a tenant should be given seven to 14 days’ notice and be provided with a notification that sets out the mutually agreed day and time and reasons for the inspection, which are limited to four a year.
We would urge tenants to never allow surprise visits even if it’s not inconvenient, as it could happen again. In these situations, tenants should state clearly that it must not happen again and insist the proper process be carried out next time. There is a formal notice that tenants can issue to the owner or agent stating a breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred.
In addition to respecting their tenant’s right to privacy, landlords are also responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment and to attend to any maintenance and repair issues promptly.
Inspections of some of the privately-managed properties subject to tenant complaints have uncovered cracked or boarded up windows, gaps around window frames wide enough to fit an arm through, fire damage leaving a home without a functioning kitchen and infestations of rats and cockroaches.
Tenants in these situations are reminded they can breach the landlord for failing to carry out urgent or essential repairs and, if the matter goes to court, tenants may be released from their rental contract obligations and even be awarded compensation
We understand that due to low vacancy rates, some tenants may feel trapped because they fear not being easily able to find another home, however we suggest lodging a complaint via our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au so that we may help resolve the issues. More information on renting a home is available here.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection