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Residential Tenancies in Western Australia

Written by Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

Residential tenancies in WA are regulated under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. The Act set out the rights and obligations of both the tenant and landlord in relation to commencing a tenancy, what to do during the tenancy, ending a tenancy, and resolving any problems that may arise.

Significant changes to the Act were made in 2013 and came into force with respect to residential tenancies in WA on 1 July of that year. If you are a tenant who rents a residential property, or a landlord who lets one, it is important that you are aware of the changes, as well as other important provisions of the Act, so that you understand what is expected of you under a residential tenancy agreement.

We have set out a summary of your rights and obligations below. However, if you are still unsure, contact our Civil Lawyers WA for a free chat or make an appointment with one of our Civil Lawyers at any of our 30 WA locations.

Starting a residential lease - The Rental Agreement

The recent amendments to the Act now require both parties to sign a standard, prescribed rental agreement form (Form 1AA). The form cannot be altered, though both parties are entitled to add special clauses that they have agreed upon. Any additional clauses must not breach the provisions of the Act.

The tenant must be provided with a copy of the agreement, after it has been signed by the landlord/property manager, and themselves, within 14 days of signing. The tenant must also receive a copy of the ‘Information for Tenant’ form (Form 1AC).

Starting a residential lease - Property Condition Report

At the start of the tenancy both parties must complete a property condition report (Form 1), which sets out the condition and contents of every room in the dwelling. The landlord/property manager must complete the report and provide 2 copies to the tenant within 7 days of the start of the tenancy. The tenant in turn must make note of any entry they disagree with and return the form within 7 days of receiving it. If the tenant fails to complete and return the report then it is assumed that they agree with the content of the report. At the end of the tenancy the landlord/property manager must complete a further report within 14 days and provide a copy to the tenant.

Starting a residential lease - Bond for Residential Tenancies in WA

The bond is the amount of money paid by the tenant at the start of a tenancy which may be used to cover the costs of repairs or other expenses required to be paid by the tenant at the end of the tenancy. The bond money remains the property of the tenant throughout the tenancy, but will only be released at the end of the lease if both the landlord and tenant agree, or by order of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.

The bond is lodged with the Bond Administrator at the Department of Commerce until the tenancy ends. If there is more than one tenant in a share house, then each tenant must note on the form the amount that they contributed.

The amount of the bond must not be more than 4 weeks rent, unless the weekly rental amount exceeds $1200.

Ending a residential lease - tenant

A tenant can end a residential lease in the following circumstances:

  • At the end of a fixed-term lease, by providing 30 days written notice of their intention not to renew (Form 1C)
  • At any time during a periodic tenancy, by providing 21 days notice in writing (Form 1C)
  • Where the premises is damaged such as to be uninhabitable, or is acquired by law, the tenant may end the agreement after providing at least 2 days notice (Form 1C)
  • By order of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, where a landlord has breached the terms of the agreement
  • At any time by mutual agreement in writing with the landlord.

Ending a residential lease - landlord

A landlord can end a residential lease in the following circumstances:

  • For non-payment of rent (Forms 1A and 1B) after the tenant has been granted a further 14 days to pay
  • Where the tenant has breached the agreement and fails to remedy the breach within 14 days (Form 1C)
  • Where the premises is damaged such as to be uninhabitable, or is acquired by law, the tenant may end the agreement after providing at least 7 days notice (Form 1C)
  • Under a periodic tenancy, with no reason, after 60 days notice
  • Under a periodic tenancy, due to the property’s sale, after 30 days notice
  • By order of the Magistrates Court of WA, where the tenant has or is likely to damage the property, injure a neighbour, the landlord or the agent
  • At any time by mutual agreement in writing with the landlord.

Resolving disputes - residential tenancies in WA

Residential tenancy disputes most often arise in relation to issues arising out of property damage, unpaid rent, maintenance of the property, return of the bond and termination of the agreement.

The first step is to attempt to amicably resolve the dispute with the other party. However, if this fails, then the Act sets out a system for resolving disputes which involves serving notices and observing prescribed time periods.

If both of these methods fail, however, you may be entitled to apply to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia to seek the Court’s assistance in resolving the dispute. Applications are made under the minor case division, which allows claims up to the value of $10,000 to be heard. If you find you need to apply to the Court for assistance, or if the other party has commenced a claim against you, you can seek assistance at any of the services listed below, or by contacting us at Go To Court Lawyers on 1300 636 846.

Where to get help

Further information and help in resolving disputes can be obtained from the following sources:

If you have any concerns about residential tenancies in WA, or if you need assistance resolving a tenancy dispute, you can call us to arrange to speak with one of our experienced WA Civil Lawyers on 1300 636 846, 5am – 10pm, 7 days a week.

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