How changes to the Residential Tenancies Act will affect investors – Part 2
Now that July 1 has passed, a new set of laws have come into place that govern renting in Western Australia. We discussed some important changes last month and we now continue with this theme, focusing on pets, bonds, security and repairs.
Expanded use of pet bond
Prior to July 1, you could only charge your tenant a pet bond (to cover fumigation expenses) if the tenant kept a dog or a cat at the premises. Now, under the new laws, it’s not just limited to cats and dogs. A pet bond can be charged when your tenant (with permission) keeps any pet capable of carrying parasites that can affect humans. This, however, does not apply to guide dogs that are kept on the premises.
Increasing the security bond
One of the reasons why you might want to increase the amount of the security bond is to keep it in line with increases in rent. Previously, this could only be done 12 months after the start of the tenancy or 12 months after the last bond increase.
With the new laws, you will be able to increase the security bond every six months as long as there has been a lawful increase to the rent in that time. A minimum of 60 days written notice must be given to the tenant and, as before, the security bond cannot be more than the equivalent of four weeks rent plus a pet bond (unless the rent for the property is $1200 per week or more).
Minimum requirements for locks and security
Under the old laws, you were only required to provide normal locks to external doors and ensure all opening windows can be secured by catches on the inside.
The new laws contain far more detailed requirements by specifying the minimum standards that need to be in place to ensure premises are reasonably secure. The minimum security standards relate to door locks, window locks and exterior lights.
Under the new requirements, the main entry door must have either a deadlock or a key lockable screen door. Similarly, all other external doors must have either a deadlock or, if a deadlock cannot be fitted, a patio bolt lock or a key lockable security screen. This excludes balcony doors where there is no access to the balcony except from inside the premises.
The new laws state that your property must have an exterior light that can illuminate the main entry and be operable from inside the premises. However, this does not apply if a strata company is responsible for the lighting to the main entry.
Luckily, you will have two years from 1 July 2013 to make sure your property complies with these new security requirements.
Don’t have to repair everything
Under the new laws, if you tell a tenant that a fixture or chattel is not working before they enter into a tenancy agreement, or if it’s obvious that it was not working at the time they entered into the agreement, you will not have to maintain or repair these fixtures and chattels. However a property must be habitable and safe so you will not be able to contract out of those items being in working order.