Commissioner's Blog: Speak up about substandard rentals
Western Australia’s rental market has never been tighter, but it doesn’t mean tenants should accept living in homes that are falling into disrepair, have mould or electrical safety issues.
So far this year, Consumer Protection has received 367 enquiries and 32 complaints about rental repair and maintenance issues, but we suspect these figures are only a small proportion of the actual number of tenants experiencing such problems currently.
Due to the low vacancy rates, we are concerned some tenants may feel trapped in substandard properties and afraid to voice their concerns out of fear of being unable to find another place to live.
While we understand these anxieties, we still urge tenants to learn about their rights or contact us so that we may try to help them resolve the problems.
Landlords are duty-bound to promptly attend to any maintenance or repair issues, as well as to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants.
We are concerned to see electrical hazards listed among some of the issues reported to us. If tenants experience any shocks, tingles or other serious electrical safety issues in their rental home, they should immediately contact their network operator (likely either Western Power or Horizon Power) before alerting their landlord, property manager or other government agencies like Consumer Protection or Building and Energy.
Harmful black mould is another health hazard to watch-out for, particularly as we head into the wetter months. A landlord could be in breach of a rental agreement if mould develops due to a lack of maintenance or repairs, while a tenant could be in breach if they fail to keep the property reasonably clean, dry and well ventilated.
Tenants facing repair or maintenance issues that could cause them harm or undue hardship are reminded they can breach the landlord for failing to carry out urgent or essential repairs. If the matter goes to court, tenants may be released from their rental contract obligations and even be awarded compensation.
Tenants who believe their landlord or agent has failed to initiate repairs or maintenance within a reasonable timeframe are urged to contact Consumer Protection on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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