Renters to have say in tenancy laws review

Stock image
Stock image

WA tenancy laws are being fully reviewed for the first time in more than a decade in an aim to better service tenants and landlords in the current climate.

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said a lot had changed since the last proper review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and encouraged the public to have a say so lasting improvements could be made.

“Compared to over 10 years ago, many more tenants are not in a position to own a property and would like a guaranteed lease for a place they can call home,” he said.

“As a tenant, should I be allowed to hang a family portrait on the wall, have my pet live with me or plant a vegie patch in the garden?

“And should a landlord have to declare certain information at the start of the tenancy, such as intent to sell within the next 12 months or asbestos or meth residue that is present?

“These are the sorts of things we want people to provide feedback on.”

Should you be able to make a rental home feel like your own? Picture: Stock image

Key issues, released in a discussion paper on December 20 last year, also include security of tenure, doing away with “no grounds” terminations, minimum standards for rental properties, liability of damage – wear and tear versus negligence, maximum bond amounts and other fees or charges, the right to keep pets and make minor modifications, and the regulation of boarding, lodging and room-by-room rental arrangements.

The commissioner said an attitude shift may also be needed when it came to how we viewed investment properties and how they should meet the expectations of tenants who were paying rent.

“We’ll be looking at striking the balance between long-term investment returns for landlords and the stability tenants want and need in today’s marketplace,” Mr Hillyard said.

“We hear of landlords who don’t want to spend money repairing or upgrading properties and tenants who are afraid to report problems – including toilets that don’t flush, lack of hot water or cooktops not working – for fear of eviction.

“On the flipside, there are horror stories about rental homes being trashed and that raises the question: should Consumer Protection have powers to step into the shoes of the landlords and prosecute tenants for an offence of wilful damage?”

The review will therefore also consider if there should be a registration scheme for landlords and an option for Consumer Protection to act as a mediator between owners and tenants.

Submissions close on May 1. To provide feedback and for more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/tenancyreview.

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