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Common Residential Tenancies Issues in WA

There are a number of issues that may arise during residential tenancies in WA which may affect both a landlord and tenant. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 should any of these situations arise, and if in doubt seek further legal advice about what you need to do.

Residential Tenancies in Western Australia

PET BONDS: What if I am a Tenant with a Pet?

For residential tenancies in WA, if you are a tenant who has been given permission by a landlord to maintain a pet on the property, you may also be required to pay a pet bond. A pet bond is an amount not exceeding $260 (in total, not per pet) paid by the tenant and lodged with the Bond Administrator (just as the rental bond money is lodged). The pet bond is used to cover the costs of fumigating the premises at the end of the tenancy, if fumigation is required. If it is not required, the money is returned to the tenant upon lodgement of the appropriate forms signed by landlord and tenant.

A pet bond may be required to be paid in relation to any pet capable of carrying a parasite which could infect humans. However a pet bond may not be charged in relation to a guide dog.

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS: Who pays for what?

(a) General Maintenance:

Tenants are responsible for maintaining the property in the condition it was in when the tenancy began and as noted in the property condition report. The exception to this is rule is reasonable “wear and tear”, for which the landlord is liable – for example: worn carpet in areas of heavy use, curtains which have faded due to sunlight exposure. The tenant must report any repairs required to the landlord or property manager, who is then required to follow the procedures set out by consumer protection to address the request. The tenant is responsible for paying for damage caused intentionally or by their own neglect.

(b) Non-Urgent Repairs:

Where the tenant is seeking non-urgent repairs to the property, they must put the request I writing to the landlord/property manager. The landlord/property manager must then carry out the repairs within a reasonable time.

(c) Urgent Repairs:

Where the tenant is seeking urgent repairs to be carried out, they must notify the landlord/property manager as soon as possible. If the repair is required to an essential service (for example: broken hot water system, sewerage issue, power issue), then the landlord/property manager must arrange for repair within 24 hours of being notified, and then ensure the repairs are carried out within a reasonable time. For all other urgent repairs which don’t involve an essential service, the landlord/property manager has 48 hours within which to arrange for repairs to be carried out.

(d) What if the Landlord/Property Manager fails to repair?

If the repair is urgent and the landlord/property manager has failed to act within the time frames outlined, then the tenant may go ahead and arrange for the minimum repairs necessary. They may then request to be reimbursed by the landlord. If the landlord refuses to pay then the tenant may seek an order from the Magistrates Court compelling payment.

If the landlord repeatedly refuses to repay a tenant for urgent repairs, then the tenant can apply to the Magistrates Court for a Tenant Compensation Bond. The court orders the landlord to lodge the bond with the Bond Administrator for the duration of the tenancy. At the end of the lease the tenant can apply to the Magistrates Court to have all or a part of the bond paid to them to cover the costs they have incurred in carrying out repairs.

ABANDONED GOODS: What happens when a Tenant abandons a rental premises and leaves possessions behind?

(a)  Abandoned premises:

If the landlord suspects a tenant has abandoned a property, they must issue a notice of abandonment (Form 12) to the rental property and the tenant’s work place, advising them of their intention to enter and secure the property. The tenant then has 24 hours to notify the landlord that they haven’t abandoned the lease. If they do not do so then the landlord manager has the option of serving a notice of intention to terminate the tenancy (Form 13), after which the tenant has 7 days to object. The landlord may also seek an order from the Magistrates Court to terminate the tenancy.

(b)  Abandoned goods:

If a tenant abandons a property leaving possessions behind, then the landlord is entitled to dispose of the possessions according to the procedures set out in the Act relating to residential tenancies in WA.

Where the goods are of minor value and it will cost the landlord more to remove and sell them, then the landlord can apply to the Department of Commerce for an indemnity certificate. The certificate authorises disposal and protects the landlord from any future attempts by the tenant to recover the goods or their value.

Where the goods are worth more than the cost of removal and disposal, the landlord is obliged to store them for a period of 60 days. They must advise the tenant of the storage, advertise the notice in a state-wide paper, and issue the appropriate notices of their intention to dispose of the goods (Form 2 and Form 3). After 60 days the landlord may sell the possessions at public auction and withdraw their costs for removing, storing and disposing of the goods. The amount left over is then paid into the Rental Accommodation Fund on application to the Magistrates Court.

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