Sydney, AUS (PRWEB) July 05, 2013
After 27 years, the State Government of Western Australia has overhauled the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), updating both the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989. The new act, which came into effect last July 1, 2013 seeks to update residential leasing agreements to better reflect contemporary arrangements. Changes in the RTA apply to both new and renewed residential lease agreements made this year.
Real Estate Institute of Western Australia President (REIWA) David Airey notes that while some of the new provisions are welcome, these new provisions can be complex and might not be adequately handled by private owner-managers.
“I would strongly encourage private owners to give serious consideration to handing their properties over to professional services and having them managed by experienced real estate agents,” the president of the property portal said.
About 60% of Western Australia rental properties are now being managed by property managers and this figure is seen to rise in the future as property owners are enlightened about the numerous benefits property management offers including tax benefits.
In the updated RTA, residential tenancy agreements are to be standardised through the use of the Form 1AA. Lessors or property managers must ensure that tenants get a copy of the agreement. And once the lessor or property manager has signed the contract, the tenant should get another copy within 14 days after it has been signed. The new RTA allows for the insertion of special clauses but these clauses should not counteract provisions expressly stated in the new RTA.
In order to minimise disputes, the new RTA expressly states that property condition reports should be prepared before and after the lease period.
The updated RTA also calls for the application of minimum security standards for doors and windows. This means that deadbolts for ground level doors, porch lights in all front doors and proper locks and latches for windows should be installed in all residential properties for lease. Lessors have two years from July 1, 2013 to fully comply with this provision.
In the new RTA, tenants are allowed to arrange for emergency repairs should the lessor fail to take action on these within 24 hours. The tenant can then send the bill to the owner or property manager.
Instead of security bonds being lodged in banks, the new RTA calls for the establishment of a centralised bond administrator where bonds should now be lodged.
The pet bond, which is pegged at $260, will cover all types of pets and shall be used for fumigation upon termination of lease.
The new RTA also introduces a cap on the option fee which is paid by potential tenants when applying for a rental property. For properties that are being rented out for under $500 per week, the option fee is pegged at $50. For homes that are being rented at over $500 per week, the option fee cap is set at $100. Should the lessor and the applicant come to an agreement, the option fee will be credited to the rent; if not, the option fee shall be returned to the applicant. However, the lessor has the right to keep the option fee if the applicant is successful but declines to go on renting the property.
On the issue of databases for tenants, only those tenants which have defaulted on their payment, caused damaged to property or displayed disruptive behaviour during their period of tenancy are allowed to be included in the database. As such, these tenants should be informed about which database they are to be included in so that any wrong information can be contested and rectified.
In cases of disputes, owners may be represented by property managers in the Magistrates Court. On the other hand, tenants may enlist the aid of non-profit organisations for representation.
In the past, a fixed term lease automatically ends upon the agreed date. In the new RTA, both the tenant and the lessor can give 30 days’ notice for the termination of the lease. Should both parties fail to give prior notice, only then shall the lease continue into periodic lease.
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