to introduce a six-month moratorium on evicting residential tenants among a
raft of measures aimed at limiting the financial upheaval caused by
The reforms include a moratorium on evictions
for six months, banning rent increases, no interest charged on rent arrears,
extending fixed-term leases, allowing tenants to end their tenancy early and
suspending landlords' repair obligations.
The bill, to be introduced into State
Parliament this week, will also include a moratorium on evictions for small
"The aim of this legislation is to preserve
these tenancies over the next six months or so, so that people can stay at home
and businesses can continue to survive," WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
Mr McGowan said he was trying to avoid people
being made homeless during the pandemic and ensure they were protected by law.
"This legislation is designed to prevent
tenants suffering severe financial difficulty from being forced to move out or
made homeless," Mr McGowan said.
"We must put a stop to this.
"I don't want to see someone who has
lost their job because of COVID-19 then forced out onto the street by their
There will be exemptions – for example, if a
tenant causes serious damage to a property.
Mr McGowan said the legislation would include
other measures that had already been flagged.
"This includes the introduction of a
code of conduct, for landlords and tenants, to help small and medium-size
businesses survive," he said.
'Rent must still be paid', Premier warns
But Mr McGowan was quick to point out this
was not a moratorium on rent.
"We are encouraging people to pay their
rent. If they don't, well, they can be sued," Mr McGowan said.
"[That] can obviously have a dramatic
impact on their credit rating. Their prospects of getting another tenancy will
"If a tenant can't pay their rent, they
will still have to pay it later."
Mr McGowan said anyone facing financial
distress should contact their landlord or property manager.
"This could include a reduction to the
amount paid for a period of time, for example," Mr McGowan said.
"What we're introducing are sensible
amendments to help landlords and tenants to work together during these
challenging and uncertain times."
"If disputes arise during this period, a
new fast and free dispute resolution service will be available through Consumer
Mr McGowan encouraged landlords facing
financial difficulty – for example, if their tenant cannot pay rent – to access
"Banks have offered a freeze on mortgage
payments and other assistance is available to those who are experiencing
difficulty making repayments," he said.
tenants urged to negotiate in good faith
The Government said the laws would apply
equally to tenants in public and private housing, park homes, boarders and lodgers.
Mr McGowan said given the changes, it would
be important for landlords and tenants to negotiate in good faith towards a
"shared beneficial outcome".
"The new laws create a framework for
those discussions and hopefully provide some security and certainty to get
through these difficult times," Mr McGowan said.
Commerce Minister John Quigley said the
Government expected there would be a spike in disputes as a result of the
"As a result of these concerns, the
legislation will provide a mandatory conciliation step in the dispute
resolution process," Mr Quigley said.
"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."
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