New laws a reprieve for renters

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin announced a range of changes on May 10, including capping option fees on rental applications at either $50 or $100 and not requiring tenants to pay more than two weeks rent in advance.

Mr Mischin said the laws were designed to make the property rental market in WA fairer and more accessible.

‘Limiting most option fees for rental applications to either $50 or $100 will greatly reduce the upfront costs to people trying to secure rental properties during the current tight market, and the fees must be refunded within seven days if an applicant is unsuccessful,’ he said.

‘Also, tenants won’t be forced to pay more than a fortnight’s rent in advance, which will help ease the financial pressures of renting a home in WA.’

Cockburn Central resident Danika Yeong said the changes were a no-brainer.

‘Housing availability and affordability is one of the most pressing issues facing WA at the moment,’ she said.

‘Many families and even single full-time workers with no dependents such as myself cannot afford to risk a few hundred dollars towards each rental application when looking for a place to live.

‘The new law changes are definitely a step forward in creating a more equitable system for prospective tenants applying to rent a property and should have been done a long time ago.’

Despite Ms Yeong being happy with the changes, she did question why option fees were implemented in the first place.

‘Would a person go to all the effort of attending a viewing amongst the large group of other prospective applicants, complete an application form, submit the application form and photocopy and send multiple forms of identification if they didn’t have a commitment to leasing the property?’ she asked.

Stephanie Righton from Harcourts Vogue in Success said she was pleased the legislation was reviewed as it was outdated and in some parts contradictory, but questioned the cap on option fees.

‘We do think it is unfair taking the agents’ right away to take option fees, given that so many people who apply for properties pull out at the last minute and then the owner has no compensation,’ she said.