What is the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (RTA)?
The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 is a Western Australian Act to regulate the relationship of owners and tenants under residential tenancy agreements.
Can I withhold rent?
If you believe the owner is at fault for not performing as per the RTA, the tenant may issue a Notice of Breach of Agreement. If the breach is not remedied by the time stipulated on the breach, an application to proceed to court may be made. Under no circumstances is the tenant allowed to withhold rent – it is illegal to do so.
What happens if I do not pay the agreed rent?
A legally binding contract has been formed between the tenant and the owner for the provision of a property to live in with rent being the obligation of the tenant.
Rent is normally payable in advance (unless otherwise agreed and noted in the lease).
If Rent is not paid by the agreed date(s) then the owner or managing agent can react in two ways:
Firstly, not less than one day after the rent should have been paid; the owner may issue a Breach Notice for Non Payment of Rent. This notice requires the tenant to pay all outstanding rent within 14 days.
If the rent remains unpaid, the owner may issue a Notice of Termination for Non Payment of Rent. This notice seeks to terminate the tenancy agreement and requires the tenant to leave the property within seven days. (Service of notice is also required)
Secondly, not less than one day after the rent should have been paid; the owner may issue a Notice of Termination for Non-Payment of Rent. The notice warns the tenant that unless the outstanding rent is paid within the next 7 days, the owner/ property manager may apply to the court for an order to terminate the tenancy agreement.
Do I have to pay a pet bond?
The RTA limits the amount of pet bond required to $260.00 if the tenant is permitted to keep a cat or dog on the premises. The pet bond is paid in order to meet the cost of fumigation if required at the termination of the tenancy. If the fumigation cost exceeds the amount of pet bond held the tenant may be held responsible for the excess.
How often can the property manager carry out routine inspections?
The first routine inspection is normally carried out 6 to 8 weeks after the start of a tenancy, then quarterly thereafter. Notice must always be provided in writing no less than 7 and no more than 14 days beforehand.
If the property I am renting does not have door or window locks what can I do?
The owner has an obligation to ensure the property is reasonably secure. The RTA suggests that the owner shall provide and maintain such locks or other devices as are necessary to ensure that the property is reasonably secure. If you believe that the property you are living in is not reasonably secure, discuss a solution with your property manager or owner. There is no obligation for the owner to provide deadlocks , window locks or security screens however.
If I do not agree with the final inspection report and the deductions from my bond what can I do?
After vacating a property it should be left in the same condition as you received it, less fair wear and tear. The original Property Condition Report (PCR) is the document that is used to agree on the original condition.
If the deductions made from your bond are not agreed on, speak with the managing agent and do your best to come to an agreement. If you cannot agree the issues will need to be resolved legally through the magistrate’s court.
What happens when the lease expires?
Your original lease has an expiry date noted on it. Once this date passes the lease changes from a “Fixed Term” lease to a “Periodical” lease. All parties continue to be bound by the terms of the original lease, however, the lease can now be terminated with appropriate notice given by either party, and in the event of the property being sold, you can be required to vacate the property with minimal notice.
You can request a renewal of the lease to the owner or managing agent. The owner can renew the lease, continue under a periodical lease or, giving the correct notice, request you to vacate the property.
It is important for you to discuss your plans with the owner or property manager prior to the expiry date allowing all parties to plan for the future.
What happens if I want to break the lease?
There is no obligation for the owner or agent to agree to allow you to break your lease. You continue to be responsible for paying rent and utilities and caring for the property until a legal hand over has occurred. You may also be liable for costs the owner would not normally have had to cover at this time. It is very important to discuss this situation with your owner or property manager so you are fully informed of the financial implications.
I have someone else willing to take over renting the property, will this help?
There is no obligation for the owner or agent to agree to the new person. Any new tenant must formally apply to occupy the property, by completing an application form, provide references and carry out any other requirements normally associated with applying to lease a property.
Both you and the other tenant should contact the owner or property manager ASAP to ensure the correct steps are taken for a legally binding transition. If the new person is approved they should not occupy the property until the final inspection has been completed and the release of your bond has been organised with the owner or property manager.
I have no option but to leave the property before the lease expires, what happens now?
You continue to be responsible for the rent and you may also be responsible for reasonable expenses incurred by the owner or managing agent to secure a new tenant.
You may in conjunction with the agent, actively search for a new tenant, however, the prospective tenant must follow the normal process and have all checks and references done before they can be approved.
It is most important that you do not leave the property before alerting your owner or property manager as this could result in bond being lost and a bad rental history record being recorded against you. Being on a National Database for bad tenants may make it substantially more difficult for you to rent again in the future.
I’ve just found out the property is FOR SALE! What happens with viewings?
The RTA stipulates the following:
It is a term of every agreement that the owner may enter the premises in the following circumstances but not otherwise –
(g) for the purpose of showing the premises to prospective purchasers, at any reasonable hour and on a reasonable number of occasions, after giving the tenant reasonable notice
I am still in a Fixed Term Lease and the property has sold, is my lease still valid?
A Fixed term lease, regardless of the time remaining on it, remains in place when a property has been sold. You are entitled to remain in the property until the end of your lease.
The new owner takes on the same rights and obligations under your lease as the last owner.
I am on a Periodic Lease and the property has sold, is my lease still valid?
The lease is still valid, however, if the new owner has requested vacant possession you must be given no less than 30 days notice to vacate by the original owner. This can be altered by mutual agreement between you and the owner or property manager.