Rising rents: knowing your rights on rent increases

Slyv HabalAlbany Advertiser
Senior Regional Officer for Great Southern Consumer Protection Slyv Habal.
Camera IconSenior Regional Officer for Great Southern Consumer Protection Slyv Habal. Credit: Supplied

A lack of available rental homes in Western Australia means it’s becoming harder and more expensive for many tenants to keep a roof over their heads.

With Great Southern median rents reportedly sitting at $450 a week, existing tenants may be asked to pay more to remain in the same property.

There are strict rules surrounding how often rent increases are allowed to happen — they can only occur after the first six months of a new tenancy agreement and on a half-yearly basis thereafter in both fixed-term and periodic leases.

Tenants in financial difficulty who miss (or expect to miss) a rental payment are urged to explain their situation to their landlord or property manager as soon as possible.

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A landlord might agree to a rent reduction for a period of time, waive a payment or agree to defer payment over a longer timeframe.

While market forces generally determine rental prices, if a tenant believes what they’re paying is too high, they should try negotiating with the landlord before applying to the Magistrates Court requesting a reduction, or to argue against a proposed increase.

The court will consider a range of factors, including whether the rent is comparable to similar properties nearby and what the property costs the landlord in upkeep.

The cost of services and contents provided will also be taken into account, along with the property’s general condition and whether the rent is simply being raised to force the tenant out.

When it comes to securing a new property, some prospective tenants may offer more than the advertised price in a practice known as ‘rent bidding’.

While there is no current legislation relating to rent bidding, Consumer Protection can investigate if there is evidence that a landlord or agent has advertised a rental property for a set price, but subsequently insisted that prospective tenants pay more than what was advertised to secure the home.

If you believe a landlord or agent is misrepresenting the advertising of rent prices, contact us on 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au, or find out more about rent increases on our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.

Slyv Habal is a Senior Regional Officer for Great Southern Consumer Protection.

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