Going to court about rental property issues
The most common disputes which end up in court include:
- disputes about the return of bond money;
- overdue rent;
- damage to property;
- maintenance of the premises; and
- problems when ending tenancy agreements.
Whatever the problem, the most important thing to remember is lessors and tenants should keep detailed records of their conduct in relation to the tenancy agreement.
Disputes between lessors and tenants are dealt with by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia under a special minor case category (disputes of not more than $10,000).
For minor case hearings there are some rules designed to keep the proceedings 'private and informal'. A body corporate may be represented by one of its officers. The court may impose conditions on the hearing to ensure no one will be disadvantaged by one party being represented by an agent except in certain circumstances.
Both tenants and lessors are entitled to be represented by a property manager or a person employed or engaged by a not-for-profit organisation. You must show the court that your representative has sufficient knowledge of the issue and your authority to act on your behalf. See Applying for a court hearing – rental disputes for more information.
If you can’t attend the hearing for strong personal reasons, such as being too ill or away interstate/overseas, or if you can’t represent yourself, the court can appoint an appropriate person to represent or assist you. This can happen as long as the other party will not be disadvantaged by the representation.
If the court considers a dispute could be resolved through mediation, the court may order the appointment of a registrar or someone else to be a mediator. The disputing parties may also agree to go to mediation, if the court agrees.
The successful party in a minor case is entitled to an order to recoup their 'allowable costs'.
There are no appeals against the decision of the magistrate, except on the grounds the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case or natural justice was denied (for example, you can show you weren’t given the opportunity to state your case).
If you have to go to court.
The following pages have more information about going to court:
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