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Proposed Major Review of the Residential Tenancies Act

, by Cindy Knight

Discussion Paper on Major Review of RTA

Proposed Major Review to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), Consumer Protection Division WA
From the Desk of the General Manager

Consumer Protection is considering a major review of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). They have produced discussion papers covering each of the areas they are considering making changes to. We strongly urge our owner and tenants to have their say by 1st May 2020.

Here are some of my comments in regards to these 15 review points:

1.       Pets: Does the law about keeping pets in rental premises need to change? 
It is proposed that generally all pets should be allowed on the premises - should this be the Owner's decision or that of the government's and what about owners who have allergies?

2.       Landlord disclosure: Should a landlord have to give certain information to a tenant before a tenancy agreement is signed?
We believe that anything material should always be disclosed.

3.       Tenancy applications: Should the Residential Tenancies Act safeguard a tenant’s privacy?
No comments

4.       Long term tenancies: How can we encourage landlords to offer tenants longer leases? This is a negotiation and choice between owner and tenant. There is nothing stopping longer leases – generally neither parties want to commit for over 12-24 months.

5.       Register of landlords: Should all landlords be required to register with Consumer Protection?
What is the purpose of this Landlord's database for and how will the privacy of Landlords be assured? All Bonds are required to be lodged with Bond Admin – isn’t this a register of sorts? Why is there a need for another one?

6.       Rent increases: Should there be a change to how often rent can be increased? Should rent increases be capped?
For the sake of consistency and fairness, we believe that If there is an upper limit cap on rent increases, should there also be a limit on rent decreases.

7.       Repairs and maintenance: How do we ensure landlords do repairs and maintenance to their property?
A Landlord's Bond is proposed to be introduced - is this necessary? Would not the existing property price reflect the current state of the property? And there are already remedies under the RTA for owners who do not do the required repairs and maintenance.

8.       Making changes to the property: Should a tenant be allowed to make certain changes to the property without a landlord’s permission?
The Residential Tenancies Act already allows a tenant to make certain changes under certain conditions – for eg Family Domestic Violence.

9.       No grounds termination: Should “no grounds” termination by landlords be removed from the Residential Tenancies Act (the RTA)?
The no grounds termination requires a  60-day notice period, which is a reasonable time-frame for a tenant to find another property and vacate. There is no compelling reason for the termination of a no-grounds policy.

10.   When Landlords need to end a periodic tenancy: Should the landlord be allowed to terminate a periodic tenancy agreement if the status of the tenant or the landlord changes?
No comments

11.   Should a tenant be allowed to terminate a fixed-term tenancy agreement?
No, the whole idea of a fixed term lease is security of income for the landlord and security of tenure for the tenant. In relation to break lease costs – this should be a remain a reimbursement to the owner of their costs in re-leasing the property.

12.   Abandoned goods: Should a landlord be allowed to sell or donate abandoned goods?
No comments

13.   Making a claim on the bond: Should claims on the bond be made easier for landlords and tenants?
No comments

14.   Resolving disputes: Is there a better way to resolve tenancy disputes than going to court? 
Yes, provided the decision-makers are completely familiar with the RTA

15.   Rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords: Does the Residential Tenancies Act (the RTA) balance tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities fairly?
Yes, the Act itself is fair however the interpretation should be more consistent to standards of reasonableness for both parties.

Given the importance of this major review, we highly recommend that you write in and express your views on these proposed changes by May 1, 2020. Please share this message to those who may be affected by the changes so that we can secure the best possible effect on the upcoming amendments. Don't miss out on this chance.

For more information on the proposed review, please contact our Property Managers or read the details here.

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