• Two new Magistrates a budget win for landlords and tenants

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    One of the biggest pain-points for property managers, tenants and landlords when dealing with disagreements arising from residential property management is delays in the court process.

    REIWA has long been an advocate for streamlining this process and finding ways to make dealing with the courts more efficient for all parties involved.

    When the 2018-19 WA Budget was handed down on 10 May, it was a big win for the WA property industry when the Treasurer Honourable Ben Wyatt MLA announced the WA Government would be adding two new Magistrates to the Magistrates Court.

    These two new Magistrates (as well as two additional support staff) will be funded at a cost of $4.2 million over 2018-19 to 2021-22. The WA Government stated this would address current and emerging demand pressures in the Court.

    What does this mean for tenants and landlords?

    While the majority of residential tenancy agreements conclude with landlords and tenants parting ways amicably, when things do go wrong, a fair and efficient court system is essential to ensure fair outcomes are reached for all parties.

    For too long both landlords and tenants have suffered through lengthy delays in the court process, causing financial hardship and undue stress for all parties involved.

    The addition of two Magistrates will cost the State, however this cost will be offset by an increase in court and tribunal fees of 7.5 per cent in 2018-19. The increase in court costs to cover the two additional Magistrates is a necessary evil and something the real estate industry is willing to pay, if it means residential cases are seen to and resolved sooner.

    Both landlords and tenants are set to benefit from this budget win. For landlords, many face financial hardship when tenants fail to pay rent, and lengthy court delays can leave them thousands of dollars out of pocket, as tenants are often three or more months in arrears before a resolution can be made in the court.

    For tenants, it means getting your bond money (usually the equivalent of four weeks rent) back quickly, something that has previously caused undue stress, as tenants must front up a bond for a new property before having received their old bond money back.

    REIWA is pleased the WA Government is taking steps to help improve this process. It is essential the two new Magistrates dedicate adequate time to seeing residential cases, to ensure that the private rental market remains a viable option for both tenants and landlords.

    For more information about the WA Budget, read REIWA's official response.