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Proposed Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) 1987 Review

In relation to the reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, the Cook government submitted a bill to Parliament recently, with expected changes to be announced in mid to late 2024.

It is important to note that this is an Amendment Bill, and the changes align with our expectations and previous communication through the newsletters we have sent. Numerous details, like those pertaining to modifications, still need to be specified by regulations, and the industry bodies in Western Australia. The Bill addresses the following issues in general:

  • pets in rental properties
  • adjustments through a dispute resolution process
  • prohibiting rent bidding
  • limiting rent increases to once a year
  • modifications to rental properties

The Bill contains new provisions in relation to pets which permit tenants to keep pets on the property with the Owner’s permission. These provisions also outlined circumstances in which the Property Owner or Landlord may refuse permission or place certain restrictions on it. Furthermore, the Amended Act will also describe how a renter can apply for a pet’s permission and the Commissioner for Consumer Protection will be managing potential disagreements.

The industry has pushed for the Bill to include an extension on pet bond to cover damage or cleaning arising from having a pet on the property. The Bill also states that tenants are accountable and responsible for the pets, including any annoyance or damage, and any related damage is not considered fair and tear.

Furthermore, I have reached out to REIWA to speak to the government about Complexes not strata titled and owned by 1 person to see if the pet amendment will apply to these buildings., most of which would not be suitable for pets. As for the bond resolution process, it is hopeful that the changes to the bond dispute resolution process will be quicker and easier as the court process is bogged down and takes a long time to get to a resolution

The Bill outlines provisions pertaining to tenants’ ability to make different kinds of improvements to rental properties, as well as conditions that may be imposed, owners, consent, and applications to the Commissioner. Minor repairs to the property may be met by the tenant but only with the Owner’s permission. Minor modifications may be subject to restrictions. The upcoming regulations will specify what constitutes minor modification  Details are yet to be determined.

When it comes to significant alterations (anything beyond a small adjustment such as furniture for safety adjustments or adjustments to keep certain persons out of the building) there are various options for a Residential Tenancy Agreement to provide for the Tenant.  This includes a provision where:

  •  a renter may alter an agreed-upon piece of property without permission, but only after giving the owner advanced notice
  • a renter may make significant alterations with permission but the owner cannot refuse permission in an unreasonable manner
  • a renter must not make significant alterations

As for the requirement that the tenant “make good” at the end of the tenancy, according to the Bill, the renter is in charge of paying for any modifications made and having the premises restored to its original condition.

Tenants must also make sure that any modifications follow an applicable law or scheme, by-laws, and take into account the age and character of the property. In addition, there are concerns raised by the section regarding “Retaliatory Action Taken by the Lessor”. This is not meant to negate the “no grounds terminations” but rather gives tenants to chance to apply to the court if they believe that the lease was terminated for cause.

The details of the changes are still to be prescribed by regulations and REIWA is continuing to discuss the details with the Government. Some of the proposed changes seem daunting however after a while they will become the norm.

We will keep you updated with the changes as and when we know. Please feel free to reach out with any queries.

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