Minimum security requirements for rental properties: Real estate bulletin issue 111 (April 2016)
21 April 2016
As you are aware, the lead-in period for rental properties to meet the minimum security standards under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (the RT Act) ended on 1 July 2015.
Should you find a lessor is unwilling to comply with the prescribed requirements, you may wish to highlight the possible ramifications on not only the lessor but also the tenant.
The lessor should consider that if the rental property’s security is non-compliant, the tenant’s ability to obtain insurance can be affected. This could potentially reduce a tenant’s interest in the property and result in it being untenanted for a longer period. Also, if the tenant suffers a loss due to not being able to claim against your insurance owing to a lack of security at the property, the lessor may be subject to a civil claim by the tenant.
If a tenant believes the property does not meet the minimum security requirements, the tenant:
- can issue a notice for breaching the terms of the residential tenancy agreement and RT Act, which gives the lessor the opportunity to remedy the breach as soon as practicable; or
- can apply to the Magistrates Court for determination on the matter in the first instance as a breach notice is not required under the RT Act. The court order may direct the lessor to comply with the security requirements, provide the tenant with compensation such as a reduced rate of rent for the period of non-compliance or may terminate the tenancy agreement altogether. Failure to comply with a court order is an offence under the RT Act and the tenant may seek the Magistrates Court’s additional action in such circumstances.
Lessors should be made aware, repairs to the minimum security measures already installed may be subject to the urgent repair requirements set by the RT Act if it is likely to cause an injury to a person, expose the property to damage, or cause the tenant undue hardship or inconvenience.
You may also wish to try encouraging your lessors to comply with the minimum security requirements by reminding them the costs can be quite small and are likely to be tax deductible.
Tenants can lodge a complaint with the Department of Commerce (the Department). Depending on the basis of the complaint and any court action being initiated, the Department may offer to conciliate the matter in order to reach a mutually agreed resolution.
The Australian standards are available at some local and TAFE libraries as well as the State Library of Western Australia. Copies of the Australian standards can be purchased through SAI Global under licence from Standards Australia.