TENANTS and landlords are being encouraged to contact Consumer Protection for advice about rental rights and responsibilities, particularly in relation to termination notices and evictions.
After Covid-19 emergency rental laws ended on March 28 and with low vacancy rates affecting WA’s residential tenancies market, people are reminded to access Consumer Protection’s online resources or seek assistance from its dedicated advisors, to understand protections under existing tenancy legislation.
Consumer Protection commissioner Lanie Chopping encourages landlords and tenants to act and negotiate in good faith to agree on reasonable and workable tenancy arrangements.
Ms Chopping said there were penalties in place for changing locks or taking possession of a rental property without a court order.
She said while there may be a period of uncertainty following the end of the emergency period on March 28, this was not an excuse for landlords to break the law relating to evictions.
“Landlords, property managers and real estate agents should be well aware that there are clear processes that need to be followed to lawfully terminate a tenancy, and eviction processes to be followed if a tenant does not vacate,” she said.
“Any tenant who is being forced out illegally has rights.
“If a landlord is making threats, being physically intimidating or forcefully entering a property, tenants should in the first instance immediately contact the police.
“Tenants who are unsure of their rights should contact Consumer Protection for advice and they definitely need to get in touch for assistance if they are faced with unlawful demands to vacate their rental property.”
Ms Chopping said a landlord or property manager was not permitted to change locks, turn off the electricity, gas or water, or take any other action to force a tenant out of the property unless authorised by a court order.
A consent order issued by Consumer Protection’s residential tenancies mandatory conciliation service is not a court order but can be enforced in court.
She said if a tenant believed they were likely to suffer hardship as a result of an eviction, they can ask the magistrate for the termination order to be suspended for up to 30 days.
“I encourage both landlords and tenants to contact Consumer Protection if they need clarification about evictions.
“And I urge anyone who believes they have been unlawfully evicted to contact us to report the matter and for advice and assistance.”
Ms Chopping reminded tenants they must continue to pay the rent that is due until they have vacated the property and to ensure that they keep the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness.
Further tenancy information is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au (specifically www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/covidrenting) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54. Circle Green, formerly Tenancy WA also has useful fact sheets about COVID-19 tenancy issues and a fact sheet specifically about evictions