Residential tenants

If you are renting a private home (whether it is a house, apartment or unit), public housing, or community housing you most likely have a residential tenancy.

The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA) (the Act) sets out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, as well as providing the process for settling disputes. The Act applies, even if you don't have a formal lease or anything in writing.

Legal Aid WA does not give advice or help about residential tenancies or commercial leases.

This information will help you to understand:

  • who isn't covered by residential tenancy law
  • what you can do if you have been treated unfairly
  • how you can resolve a tenancy dispute, and
  • where you can get help and more information.

Who isn't covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA)?

Some renters who are not covered by the Act include:

  • boarders and lodgers
  • long-stay caravan and park home residents
  • people in hotels/motels
  • retirement village residents
  • students living in accommodation provided by an educational institution (like a university) or a not for profit body, unless the accommodation is covered under the Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989 (WA).
  • holiday accommodation residents
  • those in hospitals and nursing homes
  • commercial tenants (such as business leases and shops).

If you have any doubt about whether your rental situation is covered by the Act, call Consumer Protection on  1300 30 40 54.

What if I think I have been discriminated against?

It is illegal for landlords or real estate agents to discriminate against tenants (or potential tenants) because of race, sex, marital status, disability, age or sexuality. If you think you have been discriminated against, get legal advice.

How do I resolve my tenancy dispute?

Obtain information and advice  

You should first carefully read the terms of your tenancy agreement. Try to obtain as much information and advice as you can about your tenancy problem. Details of organisations who give advice and information about tenancies are included at the end of this page under Get help and More information.

Discuss the issue with your landlord

Try to resolve any problems with your landlord by coming to an agreement, without going to court. This could be through negotiationmediation, or some other form of dispute resolution. If you agree on how to settle the problem, make sure you get any changes to your original tenancy agreement put in writing.

What if we don't agree?

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 court.

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. It can also deal with other tenancy disputes under the Act if the value of your claim is not more than $75,000. 

Always get legal advice before going to court.

What are my rights and responsibilities as a tenant?

There are many different things that happen or go wrong during a tenancy. There are rules about the rights and responsibilities as a tenant about things like paying rent, repairs and maintenance, locks, security, privacy, bonds, and ending a tenancy. You can find out more about these under the heading More information at the end of this page.

What if I have experienced family violence and want to make changes to my tenancy?

The law now gives options for those who have experienced family violence to leave the tenancy or to stay more safely in the tenancy. You should get legal advice about your specific situation. Circle Green Community Legal may be able to help you or refer you to another service for advice.

Get help

Legal Aid WA does not give advice or assistance about residential tenancies.  However, it has a number of fact sheets on tenancy issues.

You may be able to get help from:

  • Circle Green Community Legal
    Provides advice about tenancy issues (formerly Tenancy WA): (08) 6148 3636

  • Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety - Consumer Protection Division
    Investigates some offences committed under the Act. Contact the Consumer Protection Advice Line on 1300 30 40 54.

  • The Equal Opportunity Commission
    if you believe you have been discriminated against as a tenant, or applicant, on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, sex, age, marital status, pregnancy, impairment, disability or religious or political conviction.

  • AccordWest
    Tenancy advocacy support and education services for people who live in the south west of WA.

  • Regional Alliance West  
    Housing assistance programs and tenant advocates in the Midwest and Gascoyne regions, and assistance for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service
    If you are a public housing tenant or private tenant (not in a dispute with another tenant) living in the service’s catchment area and want independent advice, information, referral and ongoing casework. Call (08) 9328 1751  

  • Entrypoint Perth 
    If you have become homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless call Entrypoint Perth on 1800 124 684, Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm, and Saturday from  9am to 5pm or call Crisis Care after hours on 1800 199 008. Entrypoint Perth is a free assessment and referral service assisting people who are homeless or at risk  of homelessness in Western Australia to access accommodation and support options.

Landlords may be able to get assistance from:

More information

 Circle Green Community Legal
Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety - Consumer Protection Division
Other places


Reviewed: 21 September 2022 


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.