New reforms just passed that strengthen WA renters’ rights

WA Government social housing budget announcement
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Major rental reforms have just passed WA Parliament, strengthening protections for renters and providing clarity for landlords.

Included in the reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act are limits to the frequency of rent increases, which are now limited to once every 12 months, instead of every six months.

Alongside the banning of rent bidding, properties must be advertised at a fixed rental amount, rather than advertising or welcoming offers within a bracket.

Other reforms to the Act include the ability of tenants to keep pets and make minor modifications. While the list of modifications hasn’t been finalised, it looks to include small, reversible modifications like hanging pictures on walls, installing flyscreens or water-saving shower heads, or planting a vegetable garden.

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As well as this, more streamlined bond release and dispute resolution processes will be implemented for landlords and tenants. Instead of going to court, minor disputes can be resolved in a process known as “Commissioner Determination”, in which the Consumer Protection Commissioner will rule on disputes as an independent authority. In this process, tenants, landlords and agents can make their case online.

Conversely, tenants can now challenge retaliatory action of landlords or agents in the Magistrate’s Court. Retaliatory actions include rent increases or non-renewal of tenancy agreements in response to tenants seeking to enforce their rental rights, asking for basic maintenance or following a complaint tenants have made about their landlord or agent.

“Given the current market conditions, we know some tenants in Western Australia are doing it tough […] These reforms will help thousands of Western Australians to feel more at home in their rental properties and know that rent rises will be restricted to once every twelve months, instead of every six months,” said Premier Roger Cook.

“The new laws will strike a balance between improving the rights of tenants, while also improving the rights of mum and dad investors,” added Housing Minister John Carey.

The first of these reforms to be implemented will be the ban on rent bidding, which will take effect in May 2024, with the remaining reforms rolling out over the coming year. You can check out the full details of the reforms (and familiarise yourself with your rights as a renter) at the Consumer Protection website.