Tenancy reform Bill knocking on Parliament's front door
- Modernisation of WA tenancy laws begins with a Bill introduced to Parliament
- Rent increases limited to once every 12 months
- Greater freedom for tenants to keep pets and make minor modifications
- New dispute resolution procedure to deliver fast, fair and transparent outcomes
New laws to improve the lives of Western Australian renters have been introduced to Parliament, as part of the Cook Government's commitment to modernise WA's tenancy laws.
The legislation aims to boost protections for tenants, increase clarity for landlords, and streamline bond return and dispute resolution processes. It also includes a provision to restrict rent rises to once every 12 months.
It also outlines changes allowing pets to be kept at a rental property, with the landlord only able to refuse in certain circumstances such as strata laws, or with the approval of the Commissioner. The scope of the pet bond will be expanded so that it can be used to fix damage or undertake cleaning required because of the pet.
Tenants will also be allowed to make certain minor modifications to their rental property, with the landlord only able to refuse in particular circumstances. A list of minor modifications will be prescribed and may include things like flyscreens, a water-saving shower head or installing a vegetable garden. Unless otherwise agreed, tenants would need to restore the premises to its original condition at the end of the tenancy or compensate the landlord for restoration costs.
Another reform requires all rental advertisements to state a fixed rent amount instead of a 'price range' or 'offers from'. Rent bidding – where landlords and property agents encourage prospective tenants to offer more than the advertised amount – will be banned.
Further, a streamlined process to release security bonds at the end of a tenancy allows both tenants and landlords to apply for release of the bond. The Commissioner will decide bond release applications where the parties do not agree to the bond release amounts. This new dispute resolution procedure will mean that landlords and tenants will no longer need to go to Court for these tenancy disputes.
It is expected that the reforms will come into effect in stages, beginning mid-next year.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Sue Ellery:
"We know the rental market is putting pressure on some tenants at the moment. Prohibiting rent bidding and reducing rent increases to once a year will help ease the financial burden on many families.
"The reforms will allow tenants to make the rental their home by having pets and by making minor modifications to the property.
"There is no single solution to ease the current tight rental market. These laws introduced to Parliament today strike a good balance by protecting the owner's investment property while providing stability and certainty for tenants."
Comments attributed to Housing Minister John Carey:
"Rentals fulfil a vital role in our community and as part of the housing continuum, and given the current housing market conditions, these tenancy reforms will help strike the balance between the rights and needs of tenants and landlords.
"Our WA Rent Relief Program will also begin next month, and it's expected to help thousands of Western Australian tenants experiencing rental stress, rental arrears, severe financial hardship, or at risk of eviction, remain in their homes.
"We're doing everything we can to bolster the supply of housing throughout Western Australia – including a record $2.6 billion in housing and homelessness measures."