Renting in Western Australia? A tight market is no excuse for living in a home that’s falling into disrepair or tolerating surprise landlord visits.

That’s the message from Consumer Protection Commissioner Gary Newcombe, who has urged WA tenants to know their rights when it comes to problems in their rental.

In 2021, Consumer Protection received 188 complaints about repair and maintenance issues and 29 complaints about unexpected visits, which are illegal.

How to handle surprise visits from your landlord

Mr Newcombe said their complaints revealed claims of landlords and agents turning up unannounced for various reasons, including maintenance issues and rent collection.

“While there are separate rules relating to emergency or urgent repairs, generally a tenant should be given seven to 14 days’ notice. [They should] be provided with a notification that sets out the mutually agreed day and time and reasons for the inspection, which are limited to four a year,” he said.

  • Key takeaway: Never allow surprise visits, even if it’s not inconvenient, as it could happen again.
  • What to do: You should state clearly that it must not happen again, and insist that the proper process is carried out next time.
  • Get backup: There’s a formal notice you can issue to an owner/agent stating that a breach of your tenancy agreement has occcured.

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How to handle repairs and maintenance issues

Mr Newcombe reminded WA tenants that their landlord is responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment. This includes attending to any maintenance and repair issues promptly.

“Inspections of some of the privately-managed properties subject to tenant complaints have uncovered cracked or boarded up windows, gaps around window frames wide enough to fit an arm through, fire damage leaving a home without a functioning kitchen and infestations of rats and cockroaches,” he said.

  • What to do: You can breach your landlord for failing to carry out urgent or essential repairs
  • What happens from there: If the matter goes to court, you may be released from your rental contract obligations, and even be awarded compensation

I have a complaint – where do I go?

While low vacancy rates might make you feel trapped because you fear not finding another home quickly, you’re not alone.

Lodge a complaint via the Consumer Protection website so that their team may help resolve the issues.

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