Rental market update and latest reforms

17 Apr 2024

Amidst the tightening housing market in WA, renters are met with a mix of challenges and opportunities. While recent legislative reforms aim to enhance tenant protections, the enduring issue of housing scarcity casts a shadow over the rental landscape. Let's explore the latest developments and their implications for both renters and landlords.

The Current State of the Rental Market

Perth's rental vacancy rate currently stands at a mere 0.4 percent, significantly below the recommended range of 2.5 to 3.5 percent for a healthy market. This shortage of available properties is compounded by a daily influx of approximately 220 new residents - and with demand surpassing supply, renters are thrust into a fiercely competitive environment.

Introduction of Rental Tenancy Reforms

Recognising the urgent need for tenant protections in such a constrained market, substantial reforms to rental tenancy laws have been enacted by the Western Australian parliament. Set to come into effect around mid-year, these reforms aim to furnish renters with enhanced security and stability.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2024 has been passed by the WA Parliament.

Here is a breakdown which we will likely see in 3 phases:
Phase One - set to potentially commence in May, introduces a ban on rent bidding. Owners and property managers will be prohibited from soliciting rents higher than the advertised rate. Furthermore, they are required to list rental properties at a fixed price, disallowing the use of price ranges or "from" prices.
Phase Two - slated for implementation around mid-2024, will encompass various measures such as restricting rent increases, allowing pets, facilitating minor modifications, and revising the dispute resolution process. This phase entails limiting rent hikes to once annually, granting tenants the ability to keep pets and undertake minor alterations under specific circumstances, and entrusting oversight of minor tenancy issues to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection.
The final phase of the reform agenda, anticipated in 2025, will focus on amendments to the bond disposal process.

Navigating Forward

As the rental market in Western Australia continues to evolve, renters and landlords alike must remain informed and adaptable. While legislative reforms represent a step towards addressing tenant concerns, sustained efforts are imperative to address the root causes of housing scarcity. Through collaborative efforts and constructive dialogue among stakeholders, we can work towards a more equitable and sustainable housing future for all.

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