Announced: New laws to support tenants and landlords during COVID-19

The WA state government will introduce urgent new laws to protect tenants and landlords impacted by COVID-19 to parliament this week.

Premier Mark McGowan has emphasised that the legislation is part of a range of measures designed to minimise the financial impact of COVID-19.

“What we’re introducing are sensible amendments to help landlords and tenants to work together during these challenging and uncertain times”, he said.

He stressed that while a tenant who cannot pay rent due to the impact of the pandemic will have protection under the law, there will be a requirement for the rent to be repaid when the economic crisis lessens.

“It is important for residential tenants to understand that what we’re introducing is a moratorium on eviction, not a moratorium on rent”, he said.

“Under the proposed reforms, tenants must continue to pay rent. If a tenant can’t pay their rent they will still have to pay it later, so continuing to pay rent will increase your chances of keeping debt to a manageable level.”

Commerce Minister John Quigley acknowledged there will likely be an inevitable spike in residential tenancy-related disputes, and that the government was preparing for this with the introduction of a mandatory conciliation step in the dispute resolution process.

“This will act as a buffer between complainants and the Magistrates Court and the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) protecting the Magistrates Court and SAT from being flooded by residential tenancy dispute applications”, he said.

The Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 will introduce:

  • a moratorium on eviction for six months except in limited circumstances including, for example: if a tenant is causing serious damage to the property or injury to the landlord or a person in adjacent premises; the landlord or tenant is experiencing undue hardship; a tenant is experiencing family violence and the perpetrator needs to be evicted; the tenant abandons the premises; or the agreement is frustrated;
  • a prohibition on rent increases during the emergency period;
  • that any fixed term tenancy agreement due to expire during the emergency period will continue as a periodic agreement;
  • relieving lessors of the obligation to conduct ordinary repairs if the reason they cannot do so is COVID-19 related financial hardship or a lawful restriction on movement; and
  • enabling a tenant to end a fixed term tenancy prior to its end date without incurring break lease fees (tenants will still be liable for damage and rent arrears).
  • The Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 has also bee prepared to introduce a moratorium on evictions for small commercial tenancies and provide a range of other measures to offer support for tenants in response to COVID-19, including the introduction of a code of conduct for landlords and tenants.

    “The code of conduct is consistent with the principles announced by the Prime Minister following the National Cabinet meeting earlier this month and creates a framework for good-faith negotiations between landlords and tenants to encourage rent relief and other cost-sharing arrangements”, Minister Quigley said.

    Updated information relating to the changes is available on the Consumer Protection website:
    Residential Tenancy
    Commercial Tenancy



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