WA tenancy law modernisation to strike a balance between tenants and landlords
- New tenancy laws to improve rights for renters and provide certainty for landlords
- Rent bidding to be prohibited in Western Australia under the reforms
- The frequency of rent increases to be reduced to once every 12 months
- Funding boost for tenancy advocates and legal centres to assist tenants in trouble
- Tenants allowed to make minor modifications and keep pets at rental properties
The McGowan Government is progressing its reforms of tenancy laws in Western Australia to strike a balance between tenants and landlords.
Major amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 will now be drafted to strengthen protections for renters, provide greater clarity for landlords, and streamline bond returns and dispute resolution processes.
The proposed changes include:
- prohibiting the practice of rent bidding, with landlords and property managers unable to pressure or encourage tenants to offer more than the advertised rent;
- reducing the frequency of rent increases to once every 12 months;
- tenants will be allowed to keep a pet or pets in a rental premises in most cases;
- tenants will be able to make certain minor modifications to the rental premises and the landlord will only be able to refuse consent on certain grounds;
- the release of security bonds at the end of a tenancy will be streamlined, allowing tenants and landlords to apply separately regarding how bond payments are to be disbursed; and
- disputes over bond payments, as well as disagreements about pets and minor modifications, will be referred to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection for determination.
Under the changes, rents will need to be advertised as a fixed amount and not as a range.
Reducing rent increases will provide certainty and relief for many WA families facing the rising costs of renting. Currently rent increases can occur every six months.
The modernisation of Western Australia's tenancy laws means tenants will not have to choose between a rental property or their pets. Landlords will be able to refuse consent for the tenant to keep a pet, but only with the consent of the Commissioner for Consumer Protection and only when it is reasonable to do so. Landlords will also be able to place conditions on the keeping of a pet.
Tenants who make minor modifications to their rental property may be required to restore the premises to its original condition at the end of the tenancy.
As announced in the 2023-2024 State Budget, funding of $4.5 million per year, over the next two financial years, will go to tenancy advocates and community groups to provide WA tenants with advice and support. The 35 per cent increase in funding will be distributed via the Tenant Advocacy and Education Services (TAES) program.
At this time the McGowan Government is not making any changes to the "without grounds" terminations provisions in the Act. The current provisions of 60 days' notice for periodic leases and 30 days' notice for fixed remain.
With the current challenges facing WA's rental market, it is not in the community's interests to make it more complex to own and manage a long-term rental property. Our State needs more investors in the market and uncertainty about their ability to manage their own asset may stand in the way of increasing supply.
Consumer Protection will consult with key stakeholders to refine the implementation details of the proposed changes.
Comments attributed to Commerce Minister Sue Ellery:
"It's no secret that some tenants in Western Australia are doing it tough at the moment, facing a combination of low vacancy rates and rising rents. Prohibiting rent bidding and reducing rent increases to once a year will help ease the financial burden on many families.
"There is no single solution to ease the current tight rental market. The new laws proposed by the McGowan Government strike a good balance by protecting the owner's investment property while providing stability and certainty for tenants.
"The modernisation of WA's tenancy laws will give tenants more freedom to make the rental their home by being allowed to have a pet and make small modifications to the property.
"We are restoring the TAES funding to pre-2016 levels, which was before this vital program was cut by 25 per cent under the former Liberal-National Government."
Comments attributed to Housing Minister John Carey:
"Given the current housing market conditions, these tenancy reforms will help strike the balance between the rights and needs of tenants and landlords.
"Our focus is on boosting the supply of housing, which is why we're investing a record $2.6 billion in housing, lands and homelessness measures throughout Western Australia.
"As part of the 2023-24 State Budget we've committed an additional $750 million in housing, homelessness and lands initiatives which include 100 per cent stamp duty concessions, a range of changes to Keystart loans and $47.6 million to expand WA's housing construction workforce to bolster the supply of housing across our State."
Commerce Minister's office - 6552 5700
Housing Minister's office - 6552 5300