Changes To Tenancy Laws – Part Two

As discussed in the last months edition of the Landlord News, the WA Government has introduced new tenancy laws through it’s Residential Tenancies Act.
In this months edition we will be covering;
  • Depositing and increases in security bonds
  • Ending a fixed term tenancy
  • Increasing the rent during a fixed term tenancy agreement
  • Increase in rent when negotiating a tenancy agreement
  • New national approach to the regulation of tenancy databases
  • Written report to tenant regarding final bond inspection

Security bonds

Depositing the security bond with the Bond Administrator
From 1 July 2013, all new bonds must be lodged with Consumer Protection’s bond administrator to hold until the end of the tenancy.  
This has always been a practice of Elders Wetherall Real Estate, therefore we are not required to change our procedures in relation to depositing the bond.
Increases in the security bond
From 1 July 2013, a lessor is able to increase a security bond at each rent increase to match with any increase in the rent payable under the tenancy agreement (the bond must always be equivalent to four weeks rent).

Ending a fixed term tenancy

From 1 July 2013, section 70A provides that in order for a tenancy to end on the expiry day of a fixed term agreement, either the tenant or the lessor must provide to the other a notice of termination of the agreement (notice) not less than 30 days before the day on which possession is to be delivered to the lessor.
If the expiry date is to be the date that possession of the premises is given back to the lessor, then notice must be given at least 30 days prior to the expiry of the date of the agreement (example A below).  However it is not always possible or desirable for a decision to be made this far in advance.  Section 70A allows for the required notice to be given at any time up to, and including, the expiry date of the agreement.  In this circumstance, the agreement continues on the same terms and conditions for the term of the notice period (example B below).
Example A:  for a fixed term tenancy that commenced 15 October 2012 and is due to expire on 15 October 2013 as set down in the agreement, notice should be given on 14 September 2013 (at the latest) in order for the possession date of 15 October 2013 to remain the same.
Example B:  for a fixed term tenancy that commenced 7 August 2012 and due to expire on 7 August 2013 as set down in the agreement, if the lessor gives the tenant a 33 day notice (this includes 3 days to allow for postage) on 2 August (ie 5 days before the expiry date set down in the agreement) the new possession date by which the tenant must vacate becomes 2 September 2013.
If however, neither party has given notice to the other prior to or on the expiry date as required by section 70A, from 1 July 2013, in accordance with the section 76C, the tenancy will continue as a periodic tenancy after the expiry date.

Increasing rent during a fixed term tenancy agreement

Rent can only be increased during the term of a fixed term agreement if the amount of the increase or the method for calculating the increase is set out in the tenancy agreement.

Increase in rent when renegotiating a tenancy agreement

Where a fixed term lease comes to an end and the parties agree to enter into a new lease at a higher rent, the higher rent cannot be charged for the first 30 days of the new lease.  


Tenancy databases

From 1 July 2013, the use of tenancy databases will require some changes for most real estate agents.
The use of tenancy databases and the type of information that can be placed on a tenancy database will be strictly controlled.
A lessor or property manager must not list personal information about a person unless:
  • the person was named on a tenancy agreement that has ended; and
  • the person has breached the tenancy agreement; and
  • as a result of the breach the person owes the lessor more than the bond amount; OR
  • a court has made an order terminating the tenancy agreement; and
  • the personal information listed on the database only relates to the breach; and
  • the personal information listed is accurate, complete and unambiguous
Every applicant for a residential property must be given a written notice of all the databases the lessor or property manager uses and the contact details for the database operator.

Written report to tenant regarding final bond inspection

All tenancies will require a final inspection complete with a written final report, a copy of which must be provided to the tenant as soon as practicable and in any event within 14 days of the termination of the tenancy.

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