Know your rights when rents rise

With Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Lanie Chopping

Perth’s rental prices have flat-lined for almost three years, but there are strong indications the market could be resuscitated in 2020.

According to REIWA, the number of rental listings fell nine per cent in the last three months of 2019 – helping to nudge down the vacancy rate to 2.4 per cent and resulting in increased competition among tenants to secure a property.

Even though Perth’s overall rent price remained steady at $350 per week, some suburbs are already starting to see higher rents and others may soon follow suit.

While this may come as either good or bad news to you (depending on which side of the property game you’re on), it’s important both renters and landlords are aware of their rights and the rules of raising rents.

For fixed term (specific end-date) leases, rent can only be raised if the amount of the increase or method of calculation is outlined in the tenancy agreement.

In both fixed-term and periodic (no fixed end-date) leases, rent-rises can only occur after the first six months, and on a half-yearly basis thereafter. Tenants must also be given at least 60 days’ notice in writing using the required form (Form 10 or 11) showing how much the rent will rise and the day it will take effect. An increase is only payable if proper notice is given.

Those coming to the end of their fixed-term lease should be aware that while a new lease agreement may contain a higher rent, this increase cannot take effect for the first 30 days.

One little known consequence of rent-rises can be landlords requesting more bond money from tenants, which is lawful. The same timeframe rules apply to raising bonds as they do to raising rents, and the landlord is also required to complete the appropriate forms for the Bonds Administrator.

While market forces generally determine rental prices, if a tenant believes what they’re paying is too high, they should try negotiating with the landlord to request a reduction or argue against a proposed increase, before making an application to the Magistrates Court.

To subscribe to our regular Tenants’ Bulletins go to: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/subscribe-property-industries-bulletins.

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