Going to court about rental property issues

If disputes about rental property issues cannot be resolved privately or by using Consumer Protection’s free conciliation service, you may need to apply for an order from the Magistrates Court of Western Australia (Magistrates Court).

It is important for all parties to keep detailed records throughout a tenancy.

What to expect

The most common disputes that go to court include:

  • disputes about the return of bond money at the end of a tenancy;
  • overdue rent;
  • damage to property;
  • maintenance of the premises; and
  • problems when ending tenancy agreements.

Disputes between lessors and tenants are dealt with under a special minor case category for disputes of not more than $10,000.

Proceedings are generally private and informal so a tenant or lessor can represent themselves. The court will almost always try to resolve the issue with a registrar before the case goes to trial before a magistrate.

Common Magistrates Court terms:

Case: A dispute between two or more parties/people, which may be resolved by the court.

Applicant/Claimant: The person who applied for the court order.

Defendant/Respondent: The person responding to the claims of the applicant.

Hearing: A meeting of all the parties in court with a magistrate. The facts of the dispute are heard and decisions are made for the next steps of the dispute or to finalise the dispute.

Party: One of the participants in the dispute/case. For tenancy disputes the parties are generally the lessor and/or the tenant.

Pre-trial Conference: Sometimes called a conciliation conference, mediation or negotiation, a confidential meeting to try and settle the dispute with the assistance of a registrar instead of going to trial.

Registrar: A court official who is not a magistrate but can make orders.

Trial: Formal legal proceedings before a magistrate. A dispute will not always go to trial.

Proceedings: Something that happens in court. Could be a conference or a trial.

Helpful resources if you are going to court:

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