WA government proposes major reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act

The amendments include reducing the frequency of rent increases

WA government proposes major reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act

The WA government has proposed comprehensive reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 to strengthen protections for renters, provide greater clarity for landlords, and streamline bond returns and dispute resolution processes.

Commerce Minister Sue Ellery emphasised that these reforms strike a balance by protecting landlords' investments while providing tenant stability.

"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," she said.

Ellery added that the modernisation of WA's tenancy laws would give tenants more freedom to make the rental their home by allowing them to keep their pets and make minor modifications to the property.

The proposed changes encompass several vital aspects that aim to strike a balance between tenants and landlords. These reforms include:

  • prohibiting the practice of rent bidding by restricting landlords and property managers from pressuring or encouraging tenants to offer more than the advertised rent
  • reducing the frequency of rent increases to once every 12 months
  • allowing tenants to keep pets in rental premises in most cases
  • allowing tenants to make certain minor modifications to the rental premises, and the landlord could only refuse consent on specific grounds
  • streamlining the release of security bonds at the end of a tenancy, allowing tenants and landlords to apply separately regarding how bond payments are to be disbursed
  • referring disputes over bond payments, pets, and minor modifications to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection for determination

These reforms aim to address the rising costs of renting and offer relief to families in WA. The modernisation of tenancy laws ensures that tenants no longer have to choose between securing a rental property and keeping their pets. However, landlords will still have the right to refuse pet ownership with the consent of the Commissioner for Consumer Protection under reasonable circumstances. Tenants who make minor modifications to their rental property may also be required to restore the premises to its original condition at the end of the tenancy.

To support tenants, the WA government has allocated an annual funding boost of $4.5m for the next two financial years, which will go to tenancy advocates and community groups to provide WA tenants with advice and support. The 35% increase in funding will be distributed through the Tenant Advocacy and Education Services (TAES) program.

"Our focus is on boosting the supply of housing, which is why we're investing a record $2.6bn in housing, lands and homelessness measures throughout Western Australia," Housing Minister John Carey said.

Consumer Protection will consult with key stakeholders to refine the implementation details of the proposed changes.

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