Consumer Protection is seeking community feedback about whether new laws should be introduced to regulate tenancy protections.
Boarders and lodgers in Western Australia are currently not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, although boarding premises accommodating six or more people need to be registered with local government and comply with planning, health and other regulations.
Acting commissioner for consumer protection David Hillyard said while the relationship between landlord and boarder is covered by common law, it is time to consider whether more specific laws are necessary.
“Occupants of boarding houses are often vulnerable people on low incomes, such as the unemployed, disability pensioners and single parents. However, students, seasonal workers, backpackers, fly-in fly-out workers and retirees may also be using boarding arrangements, as do those who choose this style of housing because of low establishment costs and flexibility,” he said.
Mr Hillyard noted many boarders and lodgers have limited financial resources and their lack of alternative accommodation options can sometimes leave them in a vulnerable position – open to exploitation or eviction without reason or reasonable notice.
These factors need to be weighed up against how much new protections would affect the real estate market and landlords.
“We need to consider if there is a need to provide these people with specific legal protection,” Mr Hillyard said.
“But new regulations could come at a cost to the industry and, as boarding houses are an invaluable component of social housing, the impact of possible future regulations has to be carefully assessed.”
A consultation paper sets out a range of options for consideration, including keeping the status quo, developing an industry code of practice or amending currency tenancy laws to include specific provisions to regulate the boarding and lodging industry.
Stakeholders and interested parties have been invited to share their feedback.
“Public consultation on this issue has been designed to gain a full understanding of the issues that may affect the boarding industry and those who choose this type of accommodation,” Mr Hillyard said.
“It will help determine what new laws, if any, are required to protect both the owners of the properties and the tenants who reside in them.”