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Landlords in Western Australia Limited to Raising Rents Annually

The rental reforms come as Perth is currently facing the tightest rental market in the country.

West Australia (WA) landlords signing leases after July 29 will be limited to raising rents once a year under state rental reforms.

Contracts finalized before July 29 will still allow for the current six-monthly rent increases until the lease term ends.

Renters will now have the opportunity to keep pets and make minor modifications, like hanging pictures or installing fly screens, unless under exceptional circumstances. The Commissioner for Consumer Protection will now handle disputes related to pets and minor modifications.

Landlords can still refuse pets if local laws, strata by-laws, or written laws prohibit animals, or with a good reason provided to the commissioner.

WA Commerce Minister Sue Ellery stated that these changes aim to make a rental property feel more like home.

“Empowering the Commissioner for Consumer Protection to handle disputes about pets and minor modifications will allow for these issues to be resolved in a fast, fair, and transparent way,” she added.

The reforms were approved by state parliament in April and are being implemented in stages, with the first phase involving the prohibition of rent bidding.

WA was the final state in Australia to ban rent bidding, a practice in which an agent or owner encourages a potential tenant to pay higher rent to outbid competitors.

Tenants still have the option to offer a higher rent price on their own, which is not considered rent bidding.

The second phase of reforms aims to streamline the bond release process.

Record Rents

This comes as Perth reported the lowest vacancy rate in the country at 0.4 percent in the March quarter, indicating its highly competitive rental market.

According to latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA), Perth had the largest annual decrease in vacancy rate in the country.

Perth, along with Adelaide (0.5 percent), was one of the two capital cities with a vacancy rate under 1 percent.

The median weekly rent for a three-bedroom house rose by 3.4 percent to $600 over the quarter, and by 16.5 percent over the year.

The rent price for two-bedroom dwellings, excluding houses, increased by 21.2 percent over the year to $600.

REIWA CEO Cath Hart commented that despite record-high rents, Perth remains one of the more affordable capital cities in Australia.

“Rent prices only account for 23 percent of the median weekly income—only Queensland, Victoria, and the ACT are more affordable in this regard,” she stated.

“While rent prices are anticipated to continue rising in 2024, we expect the rate of growth to slow down.”

Meanwhile, the regional town of Broome, over 1,600 kilometers north of Perth, saw a 9.5 percent increase in its median rent to $1,150 over the quarter.

For two-bedroom dwellings, excluding houses, there was a significant 22.2 percent increase over the quarter and 50 percent increase over the year.

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