Western Australia's COVID-19 residential rent laws extended for 6 months

WA has announced an extension to the moratorium on rent increases and other provisions until 28 March 2021.

The decision to extend the emergency periods until 28 March 2021 is consistent with the emergency period recently announced in Victoria and South Australia.

WA Commerce Minister John Quigley said the extension would protect renters and landlords with the threat of COVID-19 and a second wave still real.

“For residential tenancies, low vacancy rates for rental properties have, and will continue to force rents to rise, and this together with the current unemployment rate, as well as changes to JobKeeper, means families may find themselves in financial hardship,” he said.

“Those who have been able to return to work are only just starting to recover. To add difficulties in finding rental accommodation or not being able to afford rent to their worries would be an awful proposition.”

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Landlords will be supported through the new Consumer Protection Landlord Hotline, a phone service answering questions and offering specialist assistance to residential landlords with COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic related tenancy issues.

The helpline will provide personalised guidance on navigating dispute resolution, including what to do if a tenant fails to pay rent or breaches the lease, or if a landlord is struggling with financial hardship.

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“This is not a moratorium on paying rent”

Mr Quigley said the announcement was a timely reminder to WA tenants on what the moratorium meant. “Renters must remember that is not a moratorium on paying rent.”

In short, if you’re renting, are not financially affected by COVID-19 and can afford to pay rent, you must do so.

“Private landlords can still go to court to terminate a tenancy,” he said.

“Landlords can also apply to the court to terminate an agreement and evict a tenant in certain circumstances, including when a tenant is seriously damaging the premises or causing injury to the landlord or neighbours.

“Landlords can also, by court order, terminate a tenancy where they need to return to the premises as their primary residence and retain the right to sell their investment property at any time.”

WA’s Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme will continue through the extended emergency period with tenants who have had a reduction of 75 per cent or more in their after-tax income eligible for funds.

For more information, refer to the DMIRS website, or call the Landlord’s Hotline on 1300 304 054.