Western Australia’s commissioner for consumer protection Gary Newcombe has reported a recent uptick in complaints about the condition of rental properties as well as landlords making unscheduled inspections.
“Perth’s rental market might be tight right now, but that doesn’t mean tenants should accept living in a home that’s falling into disrepair, nor tolerate surprise visits by their landlords,” Mr Newcombe said.
“Unfortunately we have received an increased number of complaints about both scenarios. In 2021, Consumer Protection received 188 complaints relating to repair and maintenance issues and 29 complaints about unexpected visits, which are illegal.”
Rent collection and maintenance issues were the reasons most cited for landlords turning up unexpectedly.
Mr Newcombe noted that while emergency or urgent repairs might require immediate action, and there are rules to govern that scenario, tenants should otherwise be given seven to 14 days’ notice of a visit from a landlord. The day and time should also be mutually agreed upon, and he reminded landlords that in Western Australia, they must limit their inspections to four per year.
“We would urge tenants to never allow surprise visits even if it’s not inconvenient, as it could happen again,” Mr Newcombe advised.
While tenants might want to be polite to keep on the good side of the owner of the property they’re living in, he warned that it sets a bad precedent.
“In these situations, tenants should state clearly that it must not happen again and insist the proper process be carried out next time. There is a formal notice that tenants can issue to the owner or agent stating a breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred,” he said.
He also reminded tenants that they could breach the landlord for failing to carry out urgent or essential repairs.
Though he acknowledged that in this tight rental market, renters are nervous about risking their security by complaining.
“We understand that due to low vacancy rates, some tenants may feel trapped because they fear not being easily able to find another home, however we suggest lodging a complaint via our website so that we may help resolve the issues,” he said.
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Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.