Leasing a property in Western Australia is governed by the Residential Tenancy Act 1987. As our laws may be different from your previous experience of leasing a property in another country or even within Australia, your experiences may not be relevant to leasing in Western Australia. To assist you with an overview we have listed some important information as it relates to you the tenant. We hope you find this useful.
Rental Agreements are either periodic or fixed term.
A periodic tenancy has no pre-determined completion date but carries on with the same terms and special conditions (if any) until notice is given. You the tenant must give 21 days written notice and the landlord must give you 60 days written notice to terminate this agreement.
A fixed term tenancy is an agreement with a start date and a completion date and cannot be changed without the specific agreement of tenant and landlord. This type of agreement offers security to both parties.
If a fixed term tenancy goes beyond the specified date (without a new fixed term being agreed upon), then the rental agreement automatically rolls over into a periodic tenancy. Both parties to the lease must give 30 days notice in writing for possession of the property at the end of a fixed term lease.
Most landlords or agents on the landlords behalf require that all tenants complete an ‘application form’ to rent a property. The application form is not an agreement to rent the property but an opportunity for the landlord to assess the potential tenant. An application can be refused by the landlord (without reason) and the property leased to another applicant.
Form 1AA (The Lease)
The lease agreement specifies the length of the lease, landlords and tenants names. It also specifies agreed rental and any special conditions agreed upon. Both parties (or the landlords agent) sign this agreement and it then becomes valid in law.
Up Front Costs
If your application is accepted you will have to pay two weeks rent in advance and four weeks rent as a bond i.e. property leased for $400 p.w. = $2,400 payment before you can occupy the property.
You must pay a security bond that will cover any damage to the premises or contents at the end of the tenancy.
The bond is your money and has to be held in trust until the end of the tenancy. It is normally no more than four weeks rent, however, there can be some exceptions to this, where
a) the weekly rent is more than $1200
b) the landlord has lived in the property for the previous three months
c) approval for a pet is given and an additional pet bond is held
Despite what is listed above, most bonds held on behalf of tenants are no more than four weeks rent.
Where the bond is held
The Tenancy bond account must be held with the Bond Administrator.
Refund of bond at end of tenancy
In some cases the tenants may request to have the cost of cleaning or utility bills taken from their bond before it is paid out. However, the bond will only be paid to the tenant once all of the associated costs have been invoiced and paid, with the agreement of the tenant.
We should point out that it is an offence for tenants to stop paying rent with the intention of having rent deducted from the bond monies.
If there is any disagreement on deductions from the bond, the bond will remain with the Bond Administrator and an application will be made to the local court to settle the disagreement. Once the court has made its decision the bond monies can be released.
Rent must always be paid 2 weeks in advance and never in arrears, otherwise the landlord may serve you notice of breach of your agreement.