This information is about residential tenancies only.
For information about commercial tenancies go to Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection -Business website or the Small Business Development Corporation.
Landlords may be able to get assistance from the Landlords Advisory Service, the Department of Commerce WA, or the Property Owners Association of WA.
What is a residential tenancy?
When you rent a home in Western Australia and become a "tenant" or "renter" it is important that you know your rights and responsibilities. This will help you to avoid or resolve any difference or disputes you have with your lessor (sometimes referred to as your landlord or the property owner), real estate property manager and/or housemates.
If you are renting a private residence, public housing (Department of Housing) or community housing you most likely have a residential tenancy. This means the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA) "the Act" applies to your situation.
The Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and lessors, as well as providing the process for settling disputes.
Who isn't covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA)?
Some renters who are not covered by the Act include:
- Boarders and lodgers - For more information about boarders and lodgers visit the Department of Commerce website and download a copy of the booklet Boarders and lodgers- a guide to your rights and responsibilities
- Long-stay caravan and park home residents- For more information about long-stay caravan and park home residents visit the Department of Commerce website
- Retirement village residents
- Students living in accommodation provided by an educational institution (eg a university), or by a not for profit body unless the accommodation is covered under the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989 (WA)
- Holiday accommodation
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Commercial tenancies such as business leases and shops.
If you have any doubt about whether your rental situation is covered by the Act call the Consumer Protection Advice Line on 1300 30 40 54.
Do I have any legal protection as a tenant?
Yes, there are laws about renting property, including tenants' and lessors' rights and responsibilities. For more information about these laws visit the Department of Commerce website and view a copy of the publication Renting a home in Western Australia - a tenant's guide or telephone the Department of Commerce Advice Line on 1300 30 40 54 for a print copy or download the free iRentWA app.
It is illegal for lessors and real estate agents to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, marital status, disability, age and sexuality. If you think you have been discriminated against as a tenant get legal advice and/or contact the Equal Opportunity Commission on (08) 9216 3900.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a tenant?
For information about the rights and responsibilities as a tenant, for example, maintenance, repairs, locks, security, privacy, rent, bonds and ending a tenancy go to the Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection website under the heading Housing and accommodation or download the free app iRentWA.
How do I resolve my tenancy dispute?
Obtain information and advice
The first step in resolving any problem or dispute is to carefully read the terms of your tenancy agreement. You should obtain as much information and advice as you can about your tenancy problem. For a list of agencies that may be able to assist you see below.
If you can, try to resolve any problems with your lessor/property manager by coming to an agreement without resorting to court action. If you resolve your problem by agreement make sure you have any changes to your original tenancy agreement in writing.
If you cannot reach an agreement and intend to take the matter to court there are specific forms and notices that you must use. The Act sometimes requires the parties to provide each other with formal notices before a matter goes to the Magistrates Court for hearing. Always get legal advice before going to court.
Are there services that can assist me to resolve my tenancy dispute?
Yes, depending on the type of problem you have you may be able to seek assistance from a non-court related agency. Some of these include:
- The Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection Division investigates some offences committed under the Act. Contact the Consumer Protection Advice Line on 1300 30 40 54. The Department and the Commissioner for Consumer Protection now also have responsibility for the regulation of the real estate industry in WA.
- The Equal Opportunity Commission investigates complaints where the tenant has been discriminated against on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, sex, age, marital status, pregnancy, impairment, disability or religious or political conviction. Contact the Equal Opportunity Commission on (08) 9216 3900.
- If you live in the south west of WA, AccordWest has tenancy advocacy support and education services which may be able to provide one-on-one support and advice. Call 1800 115 799 (freecall) or (08) 9729 9000 or the office in Mandurah (08) 9534 7788, Bunbury (08) 9729 9000 or 1800 155 799 or Busselton (08) 9752 2855 or 1800 608 085 (freecall).
Which court do I resolve my dispute in?
The Magistrates Court of Western Australia deals with disputes between lessors and tenants. The court has exclusive jurisdiction to decide all applications relating to the disposal of bond money and other tenancy matters where the amount claimed is no more than $10,000. These disputes are dealt with as a minor case. If your case relates to another matter under the Act, the value of your claim in the Magistrates Court cannot exceed $75,000.
Where can I get more information?
- iRentWA is a free app that has been developed by the Department of Commerce-Consumer Protection for renters in WA based on residential tenancy laws to give information about rights and responsibilities as well as handy tools to help throughout a tenancy. The app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
- Contact Legal Aid WA's InfoLine on 1300 650 579.
- Tenants living in WA can contact the Tenancy WA Telephone Advice Line on (08) 9221 0088 (for metropolitan callers) or 1800 621 888 for country callers. This service operates between 9.00am-4.00pm WST Monday to Friday (except public holidays). The phone lines are often busy in the mornings so it is recommended by Tenancy WA that you call in the afternoon if you are finding it difficult to get through. You can also access other information including facts sheets on various topics on the Tenancy WA website.
- Contact the Department of Commerce - Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 for more information if you are a tenant.
- Contact the Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service on (08) 9328 1751 if you are a public housing tenant or private tenant and want information or help to appeal or complain about decisions.
- Go to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for the forms you need if your case has to go to court. You may be able to make an online application.
- If you are a public housing tenant more information is available on the Department of Housing WA website.
- If you have become homeless you may be able to get help from the Homeless Advisory Service on 1800 065 892 or after hours through Crisis Care on (08) 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008 (free call STD and country).
- If you need to make an application to the State Administrative Tribunal as a long stay tenant in a residential park go to its website for a guide to making an application pamphlet.
Last reviewed: 08/10/2014