Australian Property News

WA tenancy law changes ‘strike a balance’

Posted on Friday, May 10 2013 at 4:07 PM

New laws will make renting fairer for tenants in Western Australia and also protect the interests of property investors, the State Government says.

Legislative changes will come into force on July 1 and deliver a new framework covering agreements, security bonds, property condition reports and tenancy databases.

Commerce Minister Michal Mischin says the changes are important in the current rental market, which is characterised by growing demand and constrained supply.

Rental application fees will be limited to either $50 and $100, reducing upfront costs imposed on prospective tenants, he says.

“The fees must be refunded within seven days if an applicant is unsuccessful,” he says. “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.”

Property condition reports will now be compulsory at the beginning and end of each lease period, aiming to reduce disputes over the return of bond money.

Mischin says there have been numerous complaints to the state’s Consumer Protection authority regarding the refund of bonds.

“All new tenant security bonds will need to be deposited with the Bond Administrator at the Department of Commerce, which will release bond money according to the disposal arrangements agreed to between the property owner and a tenant, or according to a ruling by a Magistrates Court.

“Existing bonds will need to be transferred upon renewal of the (current) tenancy agreement.”

A standard tenancy agreement will now be available. They include provisions for minimum levels of window and door security to ensure safety, he says.

Another change to the law surrounds the issue of tenancy databases, which are sometimes used to check a prospective renter’s history and assist owners in assessing applications.

“(The databases) will be more transparent, with tenants given access to their information and a process to challenge inaccurate or outdated information.”

The reforms were the result of consultation with a variety of stakeholders and members of the community, he says.

“They will create a fairer rental market that balances the rights and interests of both tenants and property owners.”

Information on tenancy laws is available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/renting



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