Rental reforms get the green light, roll-out to start in May

20 April 2024

Changes to Western Australia’s residential tenancy laws, including a ban on ‘rent bidding’ and allowing pets and minor modifications without approval, will be rolled out from May.

The WA Parliament this week passed the raft of rental reforms as part of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2024, giving tenants stronger rights than ever before.

The reforms will be rolled out in three phases.

The first phase, which includes making it illegal for owners and property managers to ask more than the advertised rental price and only listing the property for least at a single price not a ‘from’ price or a rental range, will be in place next month.

But if an applicant voluntarily offers to pay more than an advertised price, it would not be considered ‘rent bidding’.

The second phase of the reforms, to come into effect in mid-2024, includes limiting rent increases to once a year, allowing pets and minor modifications without approval; and changes to the dispute resolution process.

The list of allowable modifications is still being finalised, but the Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety says they may include hanging pictures on the wall, adding flyscreens, installing a water-saving shower head and planting a vegetable garden.

The final stage of the reforms, which includes changes to the bond disposal process, is expected to be introduced next year. Instead of being heard by a court, the Consumer Protection Commissioner will rule on disagreements on bonds, pets and personalised changes to rentals.

Landlords will still be able to evict tenants without a specified reason, and do not determine by how much an owner can increase the rental price.

Real Estate Institute of WA Chief Executive Officer Cath Hart said changes to the Act would give tenants, investors and industry certainty, and the changes would not be immediate.

The limit on rent increases would only apply to new leases signed once the legislation comes into effect, not current agreements, she said.

“If tenants on existing fixed-term leases already have a six-monthly rent increase written into their lease agreement, this will apply until the end of the term of the lease,” Ms Hart said.

“And any new fixed term agreements, lease renewals or extensions signed from today until the date the legislation comes into effect can still have six-monthly increases included.”

Ms Hart said there were still many details, such as those regarding modifications, that had to be prescribed by Regulations and REIWA would continue to engage with government to ensure they meet the needs of the community and supported investment.

For more information about the new rental reforms, call the Consumer Protection Contact Centre on 1300 304 054 or visit here.

REIWA has also provided fact sheets for tenants and landlords to help navigate the changes.

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