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Western Australia Landlords Restricted to Increasing Rents Once a Year

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The rental reforms comes as Perth is experiencing the tightest rental market in the country.

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

Any contracts finalised before July 29 will still include the current six monthly rent increases until the lease term ends.

Renters will also be allowed to keep pets, except under exceptional circumstances, and make minor modifications, such as hanging pictures onto walls or installing a fly screen.

Additionally, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection will now hear disputes concerning pets and minor modifications.

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

WA Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said these changes will 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 passed state parliament in April and have been rolled out in stages, the first of which involved banning rent bidding.

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

Tenants can still choose to offer a higher rent price on their own accord, which is not considered rent bidding.

The latest changes are part of a two phase reforms, the second involves streamlining the bond release process.

Record Rents

It comes as Perth recorded the lowest vacancy rate in the country at 0.4 percent in the March quarter, reflecting its extremely tight rental market.

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

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

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

That figure for two-bedroom dwellings, excluding houses, increased 21.2 percent over the year to $600.

REIWA CEO Cath Hart noted that while rents are at record highs, Perth is still one of the more affordable capital cities in Australia.

“[Rents] only require 23 percent of median weekly income—only Queensland, Victoria, and the ACT are more affordable on this basis,” she said.

“While rent prices are expected to continue to grow over 2024, we expect the rate of growth to slow.”

Meanwhile, the regional town of Broome, over 1,600 kilometres north of Perth, saw its median rent rise 9.5 percent to $1,150 over the quarter.

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

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