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Rental bidding out, pets in as WA’s new tenancy laws pass Parliament

By Juliet Helmke
19 April 2024 | 10 minute read
perth CBD skyline aerial reb pc28an

The sweeping overhaul will see new regulations roll out over three phases, with the first set to take effect in May.

A ban on rental bidding will be one of the first measures to be implemented. Owners and property managers will not be allowed to ask more than the advertised price or suggest that applicants increase their offers. Price ranges will also be banned, with properties advertised at a single figure. Tenants will still be allowed to voluntarily offer more than the listed price.

Also included in the first phase is a provision allowing tenants to take landlords to court for taking “retaliatory action” against tenants exercising their rights. An example of this would be a deliberate increase in rent as a response to maintenance requests.

In the second phase, expected to take effect in July 2024, rental increases will be limited to once every 12 months – up from once every six months currently.

As Cath Hart, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) explained, the limit on rent increases only apply to new leases signed after the legislation became effective.

“If tenants on existing fixed-term leases already have a six-monthly rent increase written into their lease agreement, this will apply until the end of the term of the lease,” she noted.

Pets will also be easier to keep in rental properties under the second phase of reforms, with landlords required to prove a “good reason” to the consumer protection commissioner if they wish to deny a tenant the ability to keep a pet.

Minor modifications will also be allowed come July, with a regulation dubbed “home sweet home” set to make it easier for tenants to make small personalised changes.

Hart noted that the exact list of modifications allowed is yet to be finalised, and the institute will take part in the process of hammering out the fine print to ensure the regulation works for all parties.

The final stage of the reforms include changes to the bond disposal process to prevent disputes from going to court, which won’t be implemented until 2025.

The government has promised to devote $8.9 million in the next state budget to establish the improved dispute resolution process.

The state’s Premier Roger Cook said that he hopes the reforms will “provide more stability and certainty” to tenants at a time when market conditions are making for a stressful environment.

According to REIWA, the vacancies in Perth currently sit at the extremely tight rate of 0.4 per cent.

“These reforms will help thousands of Western Australians to feel more at home in their rental properties and know that rent rises will be restricted to once every 12 months, instead of every six months,” Cook said.

Commerce Minister Sue Ellery added that the government had sought to find “a balance between the rights of tenants and landlords”.

“These reforms are a top priority for the Cook government and work will begin immediately towards implementing them,” she added.


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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