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Renters urged to be aware of rights as WA landlords sell up

By Juliet Helmke
03 May 2022 | 10 minute read
Trish Blake reb

Western Australia’s executive director for consumer protection has flagged a growing number of evictions in the state as landlords move to take advantage of rising property prices.

“Consumer Protection has been fielding enquiries from tenants who have received eviction notices because their landlord plans to sell the home in order to cash-in on rising property prices,” said Trish Blake.

She noted that it has proved to be a particularly difficult time for tenants facing the prospect of finding a new rental property in Western Australia.

“Competition continues to remain high for rental properties right across the state,” she noted, adding that the effect of recent COVID lockdowns had left some tenants facing unemployment, “which is adding to the distress that an eviction may cause”.

She issued a call to tenants who have found themselves facing eviction to be aware of their rights.

“We want tenants to know that they cannot be forcibly evicted from a property straight after receiving an eviction notice, as there is a process involved in ending a tenancy. Landlords must give 30 days’ notice to end a fixed-term tenancy and 60 days’ notice to conclude a periodic lease,” Ms Blake said.

Further to that, if a tenant has received a notice of termination but has not left the premises on the due date, the landlord must then apply to the court for an order for vacant possession of the property, she explained.

But in the event that a tenant is facing difficulty in securing a new place to live, they can ask the magistrate to suspend the termination order for up to 30 days on the grounds they are facing hardship. If the magistrate agrees, the tenant must continue to pay rent for the duration of the tenancy.

It’s details like this that Ms Blake wants to make renters aware of.

“Tenants being forced out illegally should know they have rights. If a landlord or property manager is making threats, being physically intimidating, changing the locks without their agreement or forcefully entering a property, tenants should in the first instance contact the police,” she said.

Western Australian renters can also contact Ms Blake’s office for assistance if they believe they are being unlawfully evicted.

Upon moving out, Ms Blake also recently reminded tenants to follow up on their rental bonds and ensure they are only being charged for the actual costs incurred for cleaning and fixing damage, not a pre-estimated cost.

Two-thirds of Western Australian tenants ultimately part with some or all of their rental bond, according to figures released by the agency in March 2022.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

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.

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