Residential Tenancies (WA)
A residential tenancy exists when a person leases premises to live in. There are many issues that may arise during residential tenancies in WA and it is important for parties to know their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.
Residential tenancies and pets
In WA, a landlord can require a tenant who has been given permission to keep a pet on the property to pay a pet bond. A pet bond is an amount not more than $260 (in total, not per pet) that is paid by the tenant and lodged with the Bond Administrator (as the rental bond money is lodged). The pet bond is paid so that it can be used to pay the costs of fumigating the premises at the end of the tenancy, if required. If fumigation is not required, the money is returned to the tenant upon lodgement of the appropriate forms.
A pet bond may be required to be paid in relation to any pet that may be carrying a parasite that could infect humans. However, a pet bond may not be charged for a guide dog.
Who pays for maintenance and repairs during residential tenancies?
The Residential Tenancies Act also sets out which party is responsible for paying for different types of maintenance.
(a) General Maintenance
Tenants are responsible for maintaining properties in the condition they were in at the start of the tenancy and as noted in the property condition report. The exception to this is reasonable “wear and tear”, which the landlord is liable for – such as worn carpet in areas of heavy use and curtains that have faded due to sunlight exposure.
Tenants must report any repairs required to the landlord or property manager, who must then follow the procedures set out by consumer protection to address the request. The tenant is responsible for paying for any damage they have caused intentionally or through neglect.
(b) Non-Urgent Repairs
Where the tenant is seeking non-urgent repairs, they must put the request in writing to the landlord or agent. The landlord or agent must then carry out the repairs within a reasonable time.
(c) Urgent Repairs
Where the tenant is seeking urgent repairs, they must notify the landlord or agent as soon as possible. If the repair is required to an essential service (such as a broken hot water system, sewerage issue or power issue), then the landlord/property manager must arrange for repair within 24 hours of being notified, and ensure they are carried out within a reasonable time. For urgent repairs which don’t involve an essential service, the landlord or agent has 48 hours to arrange for them to be carried out.
(d) What if the Landlord fails to do the repairs?
If the repair is urgent and the landlord or agent has failed to act within the time frames outlined, then the tenant may arrange for the minimum repairs necessary to be carried out. The tenant may then request reimbursement by the landlord. If the landlord refuses to pay then the tenant may seek an order compelling payment from the Magistrates Court.
If the landlord repeatedly refuses to repay a tenant for urgent repairs, then the tenant can apply for a Tenant Compensation Bond to the Magistrates Court This is an order requiring 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 have the bond paid to them to cover the costs they incurred carrying out repairs.
Abandonment during residential tenancies
The Act also sets out what happens if a residential property and/or personal possessions of the tenant are abandoned during a tenancy.
(a) Abandoned premises
If the landlord suspects a tenant has abandoned a property, it must issue a notice of abandonment to the rental property and to the tenant’s workplace, advising them of their intention to enter the property and secure it. The tenant then has 24 hours to provide notice that they haven’t abandoned the property. If they do not do so then the landlord manager may serve a notice of intention to terminate the tenancy, after which the tenant has seven days to object. The landlord may also seek an order to terminate the tenancy from the Magistrates Court.
(b) Abandoned goods
If a tenant abandons a property and leaves possessions behind, then the landlord may dispose of the possessions following the procedures set out in the Act for residential tenancies in WA.
Where the goods are of minor value and it will cost more to remove and sell them, then the landlord can apply an indemnity certificate, to the Department of Commerce which authorises disposal and protects the landlord from future attempts to recover the goods or their value by the tenant.
Where the goods are worth more than the cost of their removal and disposal, the landlord must store them for 60 days. The tenant must be advised of the storage and the landlord must advertise the notice in a state-wide paper, and issue notices of their intention to dispose of the goods. After 60 days the landlord may auction the possessions and withdraw their costs for removing, storing and disposing of them. The amount left over is then paid into the Rental Accommodation Fund on application to the Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.