Western Australia is grappling with a challenging rental market and limited supply, but renters are being urged to take a stand against subpar living conditions.

A new report from Consumer Protection reveals a surge in enquiries and complaints about rental property issues, ranging from disrepair and mould to electrical hazards. However, these figures only scratch the surface of the problems tenants are currently facing.

The tight rental market has created a worrying situation where some tenants feel trapped in inadequate properties, reluctant to voice their concerns for fear of being left without a place to call home.

While acknowledging these anxieties, Consumer Protection is sending a strong message: renters must know their rights and take proactive steps to address their grievances.

A recent study conducted by the University of South Australia further emphasises the nationwide impact of substandard rental properties on residents’ health and well-being.

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The findings are alarming, linking poor housing conditions to increased risks of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, mental health issues exacerbated by cold winter housing, and a higher incidence of acute asthma cases in children due to damp and mouldy environments.

The long-term consequences on mental health from insecure or unaffordable housing are equally concerning.

So, what does Consumer Protection recommend?

In cases of electrical hazards like shocks or tingles, tenants are advised to promptly contact their network operator before notifying landlords, property managers, or relevant government agencies like Consumer Protection or Building and Energy.

The agency also highlights the urgency of tackling harmful black mould, especially with the impending wetter months.

Landlords can be in breach of the rental agreement if mould develops due to neglecting maintenance or repairs, while tenants can be in breach if they fail to keep the property reasonably clean, dry, and well-ventilated.

Tenants facing repair or maintenance issues that put their well-being at risk or cause undue hardship should remember their right to hold landlords accountable for urgent or essential repairs.

Consumer Protection emphasised that tenants have legal recourse if their rental contract obligations are breached, including the possibility of being released from the contract and receiving compensation.

If you’re renting in WA and experiencing delays in repairs or maintenance are urged to reach out to Consumer Protection promptly for assistance.