What Tenants Can And Can’t Do

Whether you’re new to renting or a long-term renter, staying on top of what you’re allowed to do (or not) as a tenant can be tricky.

We take a look at your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in WA.

What are my rights as a tenant?

The rental contract (also known as a tenancy agreement) you sign when you move into a rental home outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, from how much rent you have to pay and how often you must pay it to whether or not you are responsible for garden maintenance. It will also outline whether or not utilities like electricity, gas, and water are separately metered and, if not, how your costs for these will be calculated.

As well as your rental contract, your tenancy is also subject to the Residential Tenancies Act. Your rights as a tenant under the Act include:

  • A clean property, complete with adequate security and a working smoke alarm, to move into at the start of your lease.
  • A copy of the rental contract and tenant information provided to you at the start of the lease.
  • Your bond money safely deposited with the state government’s Bond Administrator.
  • Two copies of the property condition report within seven days of moving in.
  • Seven to 14 days’ notice of an inspection and 72 hours’ notice of access required for any repairs, except urgent ones.
  • Repairs to be carried out within a reasonable timeframe. The property owner must deal with all repairs, but you must pay for the repair if the damage is your fault.
  • Sixty days’ notice of a rent increase.
  • Quiet enjoyment of the property.

Can I make changes to my rental home?

There’s a common misunderstanding amongst tenants that it’s okay to make changes to a rental home, like attaching picture hooks or planting a vegetable garden, as long as you ‘make good’ by undoing the changes and repairing any damage at the end of the tenancy. However, this is not the case.

Whether or not you can make changes to your rental home depends on your tenancy agreement. Your rental contract may or may not allow you to make alterations, or it may require written consent from your landlord before any changes are carried out. It pays to check your lease before making any alterations, no matter how small, because to carry them out without proper permission is a breach of your tenancy agreement.

It’s important to ask permission before making changes, even if you believe the changes will be approved. This includes fixing furniture, like bookcases, cupboards, TVs and mobility aids, to the wall to protect the safety of children or a person with a disability. A good example is that while tenants need to request permission to anchor furniture to the property (by completing a Form 24 Request to Lessor to affix furniture) owners can only refuse in limited situations such as the walls are asbestos, the property is heritage listed and in some strata properties.

Can I have a pet?

As WA law currently stands, if you want to keep a pet in a rental home, you must seek permission from your landlord. Your landlord, however, is entitled to refuse your request without providing a reason. If your landlord does agree to you keeping a pet, it should be written into your lease. Most landlords require a pet bond to cover the potential cost of fumigating the property after you move out. Under WA law, a pet bond mustn’t exceed $260.

Can I add and remove tenants from my lease?

As every Perth tenant knows, our local rental market is incredibly tight and has been for some time. This has led to a rise in house and unit sharing, where two or more tenants opt to live together in one rental home. Adding (or removing) a new co-tenant to an existing lease constitutes a change to the tenancy agreement, and therefore you must seek your landlord’s permission before a co-tenant moves in or out. Your landlord is entitled to deny the request if it stands to affect the tenancy’s security.

The changes might even trigger an entirely new tenancy, for example, if a sole tenant is named on the lease and they move out. This involves a final bond inspection to complete the existing tenancy and the preparation of a new property condition report for the new tenancy. These processes come with associated costs, and in some cases, the property owner may be entitled to claim these costs from the tenant.

Is there anything else I can’t do?

You can’t breach your tenancy agreement. It’s a legally binding contract, and you can incur severe penalties for breaching it. Breaches include:

  • Breaking a fixed-term lease
  • Not paying your rent
  • Sub-letting the property without permission
  • Not keeping the premises reasonably clean
  • Causing damage to the property
  • Changing the locks without approval (there are exemptions for tenants who have been victims of family and domestic violence)
  • Causing a nuisance
  • Using the property for business purposes without permission
  • Using the property for an illegal purpose.

Do you have questions about renting in Perth? Or are you a property investor searching for an experienced local property manager? Get in touch with our specialist Perth team today.

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