Commissioner's blog: Renting during a disaster
Western Australia can be a land of extremes – a fact we were reminded of recently when a bushfire devastated communities in Perth’s east and flooding swept the state’s Gascoyne region.
The twin events are an unfortunate reminder for tenants and landlords to be aware of their rights and responsibilities should a rental property become damaged or destroyed in a disaster.
When a rental home in WA is damaged, the landlord is legally responsible for necessary repairs and maintenance to bring the property back to a liveable condition.
Urgent repairs required to essential services should be initiated within 24 hours, or within 48 hours for issues that could cause someone harm or undue hardship, or cause further damage.
When services to an entire area have been impaired– such as when power poles burn down or the water supply becomes compromised – it can take the authorities some time to resolve the issues, but the landlord could provide a generator, potable water or a rent rebate for the duration. In these cases, Consumer Protection can assist the parties to reach a mutual agreement.
If house has been destroyed or is unfit to live in, the most practical approach is for the tenant or landlord to give a notice of intention to immediately end the lease. Tenants can give two days’ notice, while the landlord is required to give seven days.
When it comes to debris, emergency services may already have a cleaning program in place, so contact the local disaster relief centre for advice. If there is no cleaning program, the landlord is responsible. This includes clearing debris from the external part of the property and the garden area.
It’s also smart to be wary of travelling conmen or unlicensed traders who can target areas after a disaster to go door-to-door, offering cheap deals.
For further information on renting during a disaster, including managing rent and bond payments, visit our factsheets at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/disaster-advice-while-renting
If you encounter difficulties relating to insurance claims, which you are unable to resolve directly with your insurer, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) – www.afca.org.au.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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