Residential Tenancies Act review 2019 public consultation paper
Consultation status: CLOSED
Submissions closed at 5pm on 30 June 2020.
This public consultation discussion paper follows the tenancy life cycle and explores potential issues that may arise at each stage. We're seeking your input on key issues for reform including:
- improving security of tenure for tenants;
- should termination of a tenancy require reasons and do away with “no grounds” terminations;
- disclosure of important information before a tenancy begins;
- minimum standards of rental properties and maintenance and repairs;
- tenant responsibility for wilful damage;
- bonds, rental increases and other charges;
- making a rental property a home, including the right to keep pets and make minor modifications;
- regulation of boarding and lodging and room-by-room rentals; and
- changes to the dispute resolution process.
We encourage you to take the time to read this detailed discussion paper in full and share your thoughts with us. There are a number of questions throughout the paper for consideration that may help you prepare your feedback.
What issues were covered?
Below we've summarised some of the more common topics of interest to tenants and landlords. Click each link to see a brief overview of the issue and possible options for change which were in the consultation. Available in English, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.
Before the tenancy
During the tenancy
Ending the tenancy
Key issues when ending the tenancy
Dispute resolution and offences
Prefer all fact sheets in one document?
We've grouped all fifteen into one PDF for easy downloading. Download fact sheets complete set
Stories of renting in WA
We want to hear about personal experiences of renting a home in WA and will be showcasing stories throughout the consultation to encourage feedback to the review. Do you have a rental story to tell? Please share it with us. If you would like the information treated as confidential, please let us know.
Please note the following stories have been generated from information provided to the department and are for the sole purpose of generating discussion on key issues in the rental marketplace. Where necessary, information has been de-identified.
John and Tanya's rental was not safe
Eight months ago John and Tanya were at risk of being homeless and were desperate to move into any property. John was listed on a tenancy database so they were finding it hard to find appropriate rentals. Between them they had five children so needed a house to live in. They had been told by social housing providers that if they could maintain a tenancy for 12 months without any problems they could be given a social housing tenancy.
So when a relative heard about a vacant property in their regional town, John and Tanya approached the landlord and were allowed to move in. The house, however, was barely habitable. In one of the bedrooms, live wires hung down where the light fitting should be. The toilet has been blocked for the past 2 months and sewerage is leaking into the laundry. The landlord says he cannot afford to fix it. The family have been using the toilet of a relative down the road. Some of the windows are broken and there are no keys to the door locks. If the tenants are going out, they have to lock the door from the inside and climb out the window. They climb in through the window to unlock the door when they get home.
There are no RCDs or smoke alarms in the property. The oven and cook top do not work, so John and Tanya had to buy a microwave and electric frypan to cook with.
John and Tanya did not want to move. They had lived in the property for 8 months and only had 4 months to go to qualify for social housing. But they did want the landlord to fix the property, at least to make it safe. But the landlord simply said if they didn’t like it, they could leave. Even when Consumer Protection became involved, the landlord still refused to perform any maintenance on the premises. Consumer Protection called in Energy Safety to help make the premises safe, and Energy Safety issued a work order on the landlord.
Sandy’s landlord didn’t know the law
Sometimes landlords don’t know about the Residential Tenancies Act and what the law requires them to do. Sandy found this out when she recently rented a house direct from a landlord. There were problems with the house. It did not have any working smoke alarms, even though the house is required to have hard wired smoke alarms installed before it is leased. The landlord was making the tenant pay the water rates for the premises, which is unlawful under the Act. The house was riddled with black mould and had multiple roof leaks. Even though Sandy had been telling her landlord about the roof leaks and the mould for about 12 months, it was only when the ceiling collapsed in one of the rooms that the landlord arranged for repairs.
After the ceiling collapse, Sandy told the landlord she would be moving out. She got a letter from the landlord stating that she was up to date with rent and did not owe any money. Weeks later, the landlord refused to return her bond. When she contacted Consumer Protection for help, it was soon discovered that the landlord had never deposited the bond with the Bond Administrator, he had charged her more bond than was allowed and he had not used the prescribed lease agreement. When Consumer Protection spoke to the landlord, he said that he did not know the tenancy laws even existed.
Richard was offered social housing but couldn’t afford to break his lease
Richard is 55 and is renting privately through a property manager. He has been unemployed for a number of years after being made redundant at work. He struggles to afford the rent and his other bills on his Newstart Allowance and his dwindling savings. He has had his name on the waiting list for public housing for the last 2 years.
Because Richard knows he has limited income, when he found an apartment he could afford, he asked for a fixed two year lease. Twelve months into the fixed term, Richard has finally been offered a public housing rental. Unfortunately, Richard still has 12 months to go on his current fixed term lease.
He has explained to the property manager that he has been offered a public housing rental and asked if he could terminate the lease early. The property manager informed him that he could do so, but would have to pay compensation to the landlord for things like advertising the premises, as well as continuing to pay rent on the premises until a new tenant is found.
Richard knows that it is taking a lot longer to find tenants at the moment as there are a lot of vacant properties on the market. Richard knows that he can barely afford the rent on his current rental, let alone afford to pay the rent for both this place and his public housing rental.
He asks for advice from the tenancy network to see if there is another way he can end his fixed term tenancy early. He learns that his only other option is to apply to the court to have the agreement terminated on the grounds of hardship, but it will take quite a few weeks to get a hearing and it is not guaranteed that he will get a favourable answer. Richard cannot risk an outcome where he is legally required to pay rent for both premises and so he feels that he is forced to decline the offer for public housing, leaving him in the private rental market that he struggles to afford.
Linda's landlord insurance provider wouldn't pay her claim
"Linda is a landlord whose tenant fell behind in her rent. Linda’s tenant told her she had been sick, and because she was a casual worker, she did not get paid for over a month. This meant she was behind in all of her bills but she promised to catch up. Linda was sympathetic to her tenant and agreed that she could catch up on the rent by paying a bit extra each week over the next two months. Unfortunately the tenant then lost her job and fell even further behind in her rent. After three months of not being employed, it became clear to Linda that her tenant could no longer afford the rental, so she issued the tenant with a breach notice and then a notice to terminate the tenancy. The tenant vacated the premises, but could not pay the rent. Linda made a claim on her landlord’s insurance because she was covered for non-payment of rent. But the insurer would not pay because it said that she had not terminated the tenancy at the earliest possible opportunity and therefore had voided her insurance cover."
Jane had to move many times
Jane is a single aged pensioner. She has been renting for the last 23 years because after the breakdown of her marriage, she could not afford to purchase another home. In these last 23 years, Jane has had to move rental properties 11 times. Sometimes she has had to move because the landlord wanted the property back for their own purposes. Many times it was because the landlord at the time kept increasing the rent every six months until she could no longer afford to rent the premises. This was despite the fact that Jane had often improved the property out of her own money and had cared for the gardens.
Every time Jane moved, it cost her a lot of money, making it harder each time for her to make ends meet. It also had a significant impact on her emotional and physical health. She said each move was exhausting. It also meant she lost connection with friends that she had made in her community, and as the moves become more common, she found herself reluctant to make strong connections within her community for fear she would lose it all again. Jane reflects back that she never moved by choice. Jane said all she really wanted was the certainty of being able to stay long term in a home without being priced out by frequent rent increases or landlords selling the home shortly after she had moved in.
John's landlord didn't make repairs
John rented a property through a real estate agent. In January, he noticed a potential gas leak from his stove as he could smell gas and the cooktop would not light properly. He notified the property manager immediately. The property manager attended the property but could not repair the stove as it was too old and parts were no longer available. The plumber prepared a report for the property manager and owner stating that a new stove would have to be installed.
Despite repeated calls from John to the property manager, no further action was taken to replace the stove. John did not have access to any cooking facilities and had to use an outdoor barbeque to cook. It was only in May that year, when John contacted Consumer Protection for assistance and Consumer Protection contacted the property manager that the stove was finally replaced.
Gary's tenant stopped paying rent
Gary is a landlord whose tenant has stopped paying rent. When Gary’s tenant missed two payments of rent, Gary gave the tenant a breach notice and 14 days in which to bring his rent up to date. The tenant didn’t pay any rent during this two week period and so Gary issued the tenant with a notice to vacate the premises. The date the tenant was supposed to leave the property was another week after the notice had been given. By this stage the tenant had not paid rent for five weeks.
The tenant did not move out of the premises and so Gary had to apply to the Magistrates Court for a termination notice. After he filed his application with the court, Gary had to wait two weeks for his first court date. This date was before a Registrar of the court who would try to negotiate an agreement between the landlord and the tenant. When he attended the session, Gary was told by the Registrar that if the parties could not reach an agreement on that day, they would have to come back another day to appear before a Magistrate and they could be waiting more than three weeks for this. So at the meeting with the Registrar and the tenant, the tenant said that he did not want to move and could catch up on the rent. Gary agreed to allow the tenant another 28 days to bring the rent up to date and if he did not, the tenant agreed to move out at this time.
After the 28 days, the tenant had not paid any rent and did not move out as he had promised. This meant Gary had to make another application to the court to get an order to have the tenant evicted. This took many more weeks. In all, it took 12 weeks to evict the tenant, during which time the tenant had not paid any rent.