• REIWA's essential renting guide


    REIWA's essential renting guide

    1. How do I get started on my rental journey?
    2. How does a home open work?
    3. What do I need to know about starting a rental tenancy?
    4. What are my rights as a tenant?
    5. How does a rental bond work?
    6. What is a PCR and how does it work?
    7. How do I renew or end a tenancy agreement?
    8. What is the best way to prepare for a rent inspection?


    Whether you are looking to move out of home or simply looking to relocate to a new city, renting offers you more flexibility than owning a new home, while also not locking you in financially. 

    The benefits to renting include being able to relocate to a different size property or suburb altogether once your lease has expired. Many use this opportunity to live in suburbs that suit their lifestyle, which they may not be able to afford if they were to buy.  

    However, there are many things to consider and take care of when starting a rental tenancy in Western Australia. A trap for some renters is they fail to adequately consider all upfront costs. 

    Before actively starting your rental hunt, think seriously about what you can afford. Some financial planners suggest that your rental costs should not exceed 30 per cent of your income after taxes.

    As an example, if you were looking at renting a property for $420 a week, the upfront costs you’d be likely to pay are: 

    • A security bond, which is usually four weeks rent ($1,680). 
    • Rent in advance, which is usually two weeks rent ($840). 
    • Moving costs, which is dependent on how much you are moving and the distance the items need to travel. 
    • If you own a pet and it has been approved by the owner to live in the rental, then you might be required to pay a pet bond ($260 is the maximum amount).

    Find out more about the costs of renting in Western Australia

    REIWA's Essential Renting Guide

    How do I get started on my rental journey?

    It’s no secret that searching for the right rental property can be an arduous, time consuming experience. 

    Before jumping onto reiwa.com to start your property search, you will need to choose the suburb you want to live in.   

    Most people generally have an idea of the suburbs they would like to live in, however asking question such as the ones below can help narrow down what suburb and property type is most suitable for your needs: 

    Do you want to be close to schools, public transport, parks etc? How far are you willing to travel to work? 

    This is where reiwa.com suburb profiles can give you the insight you need to feel confident when moving to a new suburb. You can explore suburbs and listings for sale on reiwa.com or by downloading the reiwa.com app. The map view allows you to see how far away these places are from the property listings, to see if it is a potential new home for you.  

    By using your reiwa.com profile you will be able to save your favourite searches, and sign up to alerts so you can get notified when a similar listing gets added or when something changes to the listing you have saved (ie price drop).
      

    Can you afford to rent by yourself or will you need to house share? 

    When researching a suburb, familiarise yourself with the median rent price in the area to give you a guide on what to expect to pay within the area for a house or apartment.   

    If you are set on living in a particular suburb that is a little bit out of reach budget wise, it could be worth looking into house sharing. Choosing the right housemate can be a tough decision, to help you avoid a living disaster, we've put together our top five tips for finding your dream housemate.  

    Do you have a pet? 

    Looking for a rental property in Perth to accommodate you and your furry friend can be challenging. 

    The good news is that it’s becoming increasingly common for owners to allow pets, and more often than not property managers are advising owners to keep an open mind about pets, particularly in the current market.   

    Read our tips for renting with pets in Perth.  

    Do you prefer somewhere close to the city? How much space will you need?  

    There are pros and cons about moving to an inner city suburb or setting up house right in the middle of the CBD with space and budget a main factor that can influence this decision. 

    If you are unsure about living in an apartment but want to be close to the action, read our space saving tips for small homes to see if this can help with your decision.  

    Where are the most affordable suburbs in Perth to rent?  

    The good news for renters in WA is that Perth is Australia's most affordable capital city to rent.   

    To help with your property journey, we’ve prepared a list of the 10 most affordable suburbs in Perth as well as the 10 most affordable within 10 kilometres of the CBD. 

    The 10 most affordable suburbs 

    Suburb Median rent price One year change
    1. Armadale $250 ↑ 2.9%
    2. Mandurah $260 - 0.0
    3. Kelmscott $270 - 0.0
    4. Midland $273 ↓ 2.7%
    5. Coodanup $275 ↓ 1.8%
    6. Parmelia $275 ↑ 1.9%
    7. Girrawheen $280 ↑ 3.7%
    8. Gosnells $280 - 0.0
    9. Langford $280 - 0.0
    10. Cooloongup $285 ↑ 1.8%
    Perth region $350 ↑ 2.9%

    The 10 most affordable suburbs within 10km of the Perth CBD

    Suburb Median house rent price Distance from CBD
    1. Ashfield $328 8.4km
    2. Nollamara $330 8.2km
    3. Embleton $350 7.4km
    4. Balcatta $350 9km
    5. Osborne Park $350 6.6km
    6. Kewdale $350 7.4km
    7. Bentley $350 8.1km
    8. Cloverdale $360 8.3km
    9. St James $363 7.1km
    10. Morley $370 8.8km

    *Data in above tables is for the 12 months to June 2019 

    REIWA'S Essential Renting Guide

    How does a home open work? 

    Once you have narrowed down on preferred suburbs and have searched available properties, it is important that you view the property to ensure it has all the features you are after.  

    Locking in a viewing 

    On reiwa.com, we have thousands of rental properties across Western Australia for you to choose from. Once you find a property you like, you can find out if you love it, by booking into a home open using the ‘Book Inspection’ button on the property advertisement page.
     
    Once you have booked a viewing, you will receive SMS and email confirmations with the property manager’s details, directions to the rental and other useful information. 
     
    Additionally, you’ll receive a reminder email or SMS on the day of the viewing, as well as notifications of any changes to the property’s vacancy or the home open time. So you will always be up-to-date. 
     
    If you’re unable to attend a home open, Home Open Manager also allows you to cancel your booking at the click of a button within the initial confirmation email or by using an SMS cancel code.
     

    Request an open time 

    If the rental you are interested in on reiwa.com does not have a scheduled home open time, you can easily request a viewing using the ‘Email Agent’ button on the property details page. Simply complete the email form and our system will connect you directly to the agent. 
     
    If the property is available to view, you will receive a notification to confirm your booking or to suggest another appropriate viewing time. 

    Inspecting a rental before applying 

    When it comes to assessing the condition of the property, it is always a good idea to take a checklist of the key features you are wanting. Some items that might make your list include; 

    • Entry way – is the front of the house enclosed or open? Is it secure and can people access the entry way easily?  
    • Parking – is it fully enclosed and available for those living at the property and is there space for visitors?
    • Public transport – is the path to the closest public transport easily accessible and on a sealed pathway? 
    • Airconditioning and heating – does it operate on gas or electricity? Does it service all the rooms or only certain ones? 
    • Kitchen – is it big enough and have enough storage and bench space? What appliances come with the rental (such as dishwasher)? 
    • Bathroom – how many bathrooms are there? Are you happy with just a shower or would you like a bath tub? If so, it is a decent size? 
    • Property condition – is it well maintained such as the lights working, taps working, no pests and garden maintained?  
    • Furniture – is the property furnished and if so, is it in good condition? Will your own furniture fit or will you need to buy new items?

    Need the ultimate organisation tool to help plan all of your home opens? Read more about our home open planner that is available on the reiwa.com app.

    REIWA's essential renting guide

    What do I need to know about starting a rental tenancy? 

    Congratulations! Once you’ve reached this stage it means you’ve found a rental property you are interested in and need to apply.   

    With competition in the rental market quite high, it’s important you get your application right from the start and submit one you are proud of.   

    The application form is your opportunity to show the landlord and property manager that you are the best fit candidate for that property. Your application is reviewed against other applications for the same rental, so making yours stand out will improve your chances.   

    What should be included in the rental application? 

    A rental application is basically your resume for renting so here is a list of documents you should have ready to increase your likelihood of being selected.   

    1. Identification 

    You will need to include all your personal details in the rental application, including name, current address, employment details etc. – most things you would include on a resume. 

    Along with this you will need to provide a copy of some form of photo identification, this can be a passport, driver's license or proof of age card. A second form of ID is also recommended which can be in the form of a Medicare card, birth certificate, healthcare card etc.   

    2. References  

    You should include references that can verify your rental history and employment history. A referee can also be a previous housemate or family member that can vouch for who you are as a person and can shed light on what you would be like as a potential tenant.   

    Make sure that the referees you have listed are aware you have put them down and are happy to take calls from property managers. It can be detrimental to your application if the property manager cannot reach or get in contact with your referees.   

    3. Proof of income 

    It’s important to prove that you can afford to pay rent, therefore you need to verify your income and current employment. You can verify this by including the details of your current workplace, your manager and your most recent pay slips.   

    4. Proof of rent history 

    Proving that you've been a good tenant is important to your application. It's desirable to provide previous tenancy ledgers so you can show properly that you were always on time with paying rent. 

    5. Cover letter  

    A short cover letter can be what gets you that little bit ahead of other applications. It shows you’re very interested and willing to go above and beyond. Include in your cover letter reasons that make you a good tenant and suitable fit for the property e.g. closer to work or family.   

    6. Utility bills (or proof of current address) 

    Provide something that verifies where you are currently living. This can be a utility bill, car registration or anything posted with your name to your current residency. 

    *TIP: You can pre-prepare your details on Apply Now which saves your application, then you can submit it when you are ready, and it automatically sends to the property manager. Apply Now also saves your details, saving you time for when you apply for more than one property.  

    Visit www.reiapplynow.com.au for more information.  

    Tips from a property manager expert 

    We spoke with Head of Property Management at Professionals Michael Johnson & Co Kathryn Massey about how to make your rental application stand out.   

    1. Provide as much information as possible 

    This should go without saying but the more information the better. This prevents the property manager from having to prolong the application process by asking for further clarification. If there are gaps in your employment or rental history, provide explanations upfront.

    If there are unexplained gaps, the property manager will most likely move onto another application where all information is available.   

    2. Make a good first impression 

    You should treat applying for a rental the same as applying for a job – don't underestimate the value of first impressions. Present yourself well at the home open, as this reflects how you will potentially look after the property. Not only should you dress well, but also be friendly and polite.  

    Remember you are being considered to look after someone’s largest investment, so it is very important to the landlord/property manager that they feel comfortable with you looking after their property.   

    3. Be on time 

    This applies to home opens and lodging your rental application as both are just as important when it comes to being selected for a property. Property managers are very busy, so it’s important you are reliable and turn up when expected.   

    Usually a property manager will indicate that any rental applications will need to be submitted by a certain time. Respect the deadline – if you don’t, the result will more than likely be disappointment. If you are planning on renting a share house, make sure that all the applicants have their information ready to go so delays to submitting the application are avoided.  

    4. Know what you're applying for 

    Make sure you know the property you are applying for and that it fits within your budget. Don't submit an application for a property unless you can seriously see yourself moving in, otherwise you are just wasting time for yourself and the property manager/landlord. 

    REIWA's essential renting guide

    What are my rights as a tenant? 

    As a West Aussie tenant, you are reasonably expected to share some of the responsibility with the landlord for ensuring that your tenancy runs smoothly. 
     
    The property manager looking after the rental will help facilitate these mutual responsibilities, but it's important that you have a solid understanding of where you stand throughout the duration of your lease and that you maintain good communication with the property manager. 

    The written lease agreement 

    An official written lease agreement is the best way to ensure you both clearly understand your rights and responsibilities when entering into a tenancy. 
     
    Your written lease clearly outlines your rights and responsibilities and lessens the chances of a dispute with the owner. We advise that you read the lease carefully before signing and keep a copy of the paperwork handy. 

    Rights and responsibilities 

    As a renter, you have a number of rights and responsibilities to adhere to throughout the duration of your tenancy. 

    Your rights include: 

    • A copy of the lease and information for tenants. 
    • Provision of clean premises at the start of the lease. 
    • Bond money safely deposited with the State Government's Bond Administrator. 
    • A condition report for the premises, given to the tenant within seven days of occupation, noting any damage. This must be returned within seven days of the start of the lease with any additional damage added to the report. 
    • Receipts are required for rental payments unless the rent is paid directly into a bank account. 
    • Tenants to be given seven to 14 days notice of an inspection and 72 hours notice of access required for any repairs, unless this is urgent, or the tenant agrees otherwise. 
    • Tenants can expect repairs to be undertaken within a reasonable timeframe. The owner must see to all repairs, but the tenant pays if the damage is their fault. 
    • 60 days notice must be given for a rent increase, unless if renewing a lease. 

    Your responsibilities include: 

    • Keeping the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness and not using it for illegal activity. 
    • Ensuring rent is paid on time for the duration of the lease agreement. 
    • Obtaining the owner’s written permission if someone else moves in and that extra person exceeds the number of residents on the lease agreement. 
    • Reporting all necessary repairs to your property manager. 
    • Requesting written permission to make any alterations. 
    • Not disrupting the neighbours. 
    • Ensuring the premises is in the same condition you found it when you leave. 
    • Providing 21 days notice to terminate an expired lease that has reverted to a periodic tenancy. 

    If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant throughout your lease, be sure to speak with your REIWA property manager. 

    Affixing furniture 

    In October 2019 amendments were made to the Residential Tenancies Act which allows renters to fix furniture to walls to increase the safety of children.  

    This now makes it so much easier for you to protect your child within your home, whilst not compromising your lease agreement. 

    If you decide you want to fix any furniture to the walls, make sure you still seek approval from your landlord or property manager first, who will guide you through the correct process. Remember that you will have to repair any surfaces at the termination of your lease.  

    For more information, visit Product Safety Australia's website on Toppling Furniture: Anchor it and protect a child.

    Still unsure? Find out more by reading our eight most common tenant questioned answered. 

    REIWA's Essential Renting Guide

    How does a rental bond work? 

    When taking on a residential tenancy, typically the owner requires the tenant to pay a security bond upfront. By law, the maximum security bond is four weeks rent. 

    The purpose of the bond is to provide the owner with an opportunity to mitigate any losses, should the tenant cause any damage to the premises. 

    The Government Bond Administrator 

    The security bond is lodged with a specific State Government managed trust fund called the Government Bond Administrator. The security bond is not kept by the owner or managing agent. 

    If landlords and property managers do not pay the bond into the Government managed trust, they may be faced with severe penalties. 

    A recent example of this resulted in the owner of self-managed rental properties being fined $24,000 for the misuse of bond monies. 

    Getting your bond money back 

    At the end of the tenancy, the managing agent will inspect the property and prepare a Property Condition Report (PCR) to ensure it is in the same condition as at commencement of the lease (taking into consideration fair wear and tear). 

    This is done by comparing the state of the property against the initial PCR - a mandatory document required to be completed at the start of a new tenancy. 

    The completed initial PCR is agreed to and signed by the landlord (or the managing agent on their behalf) at the commencement of the lease and sent to the tenant within seven days of the tenant occupying the premises. 

    From here, tenants typically receive some or all their bond money back, depending on the condition of the property. 

    Find out more about how to get your security bond back at the end of a lease

    Bond disputes 

    Sometimes an outgoing tenant’s view of what constitutes ‘fair’ wear and tear differs to that of the owner’s or property manager’s view. 

    This can lead to a disagreement over what amount of the bond is disbursed.   

    Sometimes the tenant will leave smaller tasks, like cleaning the oven or mowing the lawn, to the owner and give permission for the costs of rectifying them to be deducted from their bond. 

    Occasionally, an agreement cannot be reached and the amount of the bond to be disbursed remains in dispute. 

    In these situations, the initial and end of tenancy PCRs are relied upon to determine what damage, if any, occurred during the tenancy.   

    For example, if the carpet is noted as being stained at the end of the tenancy, but not noted in the initial PCR, it is difficult for the tenant to disprove responsibility. 

    In the event of an unresolved dispute, the Magistrates Court will ultimately decide the allocation of bond monies. The courts will heavily rely upon the PCRs. 

    It is important tenants ensure the PCR is accurate at the commencement of the lease. 

    Make sure you agree with each item listed in the PCR and bring any items you think may have been overlooked to the attention of your property manager in writing within seven days of receiving the PCR. 

    For more information about rental bonds, view the Department of Mines, Industry Regulations and Safety bonds page or speak with your REIWA property manager

    REIWA's Essential Renting Guide

    What is a PCR and how does it work?

    The Property Condition Report (PCR) is a written report that describes the condition of your rented property when you move in and move out. 

    In Western Australia, a landlord or property manager must prepare the PCR at the beginning and ending of the tenancy agreement. 

    As a tenant you will be supplied a copy of the PCR and have the opportunity to dispute an item in the PCR, including asking for other items to be included. 

    You should retain a copy of the PCR once completed as the landlord or property manager will compare the initial PCR and the final PCR to determine if there are any damages to the property. 

    If the dispute proceeds to the Magistrates Court then decisions will heavily rely upon the information in the PCRs. 

    What it means for tenants 

    Knowing what the PCR contains is essential to your rights as a tenant. It is important you take the time to thoroughly check the PCR including fixtures and fittings. 

    Ensure that the initial PCR accurately reflects the condition of the premises. As time passes your memory may not be as clear as when first moving in, so an accurate PCR can save you a lot of money and hassle when it comes to your last inspection and getting your bond back. 

    When moving into a new place, the last thing many tenants want to do is diligently inspect every crevice of the house, but it’s these minor issues that become the very cause of disagreements between the landlord/property manager and the tenant during the final inspection. 

    You have seven days to disagree with any information in the PCR after you get it, so if you believe it is not accurate, use this time to address any concerns. 

    At the end of the tenancy and prior to handing the premises back to the landlord or property manager, refer to the original PCR and ensure that the premises, with the exception of fair wear and tear, reflect the description in the original PCR. 

    The landlord or property manager will prepare and provide you with a final PCR within 14 days after the termination of the tenancy. 

    Ensuring you maintain good communication with your landlord or property manager will ensure a smooth process when or if any issues arise.  

    Important things to note in the PCR are: 

    • Any damage big or small should be noted and photographed. 
    • The report can be adapted to suit the premises if need be. 
    • A PCR should be completed whether or not a rental bond is taken. 
    • A PCR is not needed if the same tenants renew a tenancy agreement. 
    • Once the landlord or property manager completes the PCR, they must give two copies of the PCR to the tenant so they can examine and if necessary return one copy back that shows any disagreement.

    When the tenancy comes to an end, the landlord or property manager will determine if there has been any damage to the property based on comparing the initial and final PCRs – taking into account fair wear and tear. 

    REIWA's Essential Renting Guide

    How do I renew or end a tenancy agreement? 

    Knowing your rights as a tenant when it comes to ending or renewing a tenancy agreement is one of the most common things the REIWA Information Service assists the WA public with. 

    It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your options before you get to the end of the lease agreement.  

    Renewing a rental lease 

    Renewing a lease occurs when your current tenancy agreement expires. If there are no rent increases or changes to terms then the process is pretty straightforward. 

    If you are happy in your rental, then a safe and easy option is to renew your lease for another six or 12 months (or another agreed time). 

    Renewing a lease with no rent increase 

    If the landlord agrees to a lease extension with no rent increase for another fixed period of time, then that agreement should be reflected in writing.

    This is usually in a REIWA form that your agent should provide for this purpose.  

    Renewing a lease with a rent increase 

    If a landlord plans to increase the rent with the current tenants staying on, they must negotiate the rent increase prior to the end of the lease.  

    The agreement as to the extended lease period and the new rent should be reflected in writing. If you have agreed upon any other new terms eg. a pet then those terms must be included in the agreement. 

    The rent cannot be increased during the first 30 days of a new lease period.  

    Ending a rental lease 

    The process for ending a tenancy comes down to whether you have a periodic lease or a fixed-term lease. 

    Terminating a periodic lease 

    A periodic tenancy is an agreement that runs for an indefinite length of time; there is no set finishing date.  

    You can end your periodic lease at any time after giving the landlord, through the property manager, 21 days' notice. The notice you give must:  

    • Be in writing.
    • State the address of the rented premises.
    • State the date you will vacate the premises.  
    • Include your name, signature and date.

    The written notice can be either a letter or a Form 22: Notice by tenant of Termination. 

    If the landlord/property manager wants you to leave, they must give you a minimum of 60 days' notice using a Notice of termination (Form 1C). 

    Of course, if you are sending the notice by post, it’s best to add six working days extra to the notice period to account for delivery times, and if in your lease you have agreed to have notices served by email, you should follow up with the property manager to confirm they have received the email and are aware of your intent to end the lease. 

    Terminating a fixed-term lease 

    A fixed-term tenancy agreement specifies a start and finish date and the minimum length of time you agree to stay in the property. Most fixed-term leases are for six to 12 months (or the agreed period of time) which is agreed to at the start of the tenancy. 

    Terminating a lease becomes significantly more complicated if you are on a fixed-term lease, as there is no automatic right of termination. If, as a last resort, you need to break a fixed-term lease, you need to seek the landlord’s permission (via your property manager if the property is professionally managed). 

    In this instance, the landlord will often agree to a termination at a point-in time when an alternative tenant commences a new lease. In other words, the owner is looking for a smooth swap, minimum fuss and no costs incurred. 

    The Residential Tenancy Agreement is a legal contract and the owner is entitled to seek an outcome where their financial position is no worse off as a result of a tenant breaking their tenancy agreement. Subsequently, the owner is entitled to claim compensation for any financial loss incurred as a direct result of the breach. 

    If a replacement tenant has not been found by the time you move out, you are liable to continue paying rent and maintain the premises until a new tenant has taken up residency or the original end date of your fixed-term lease expires. In addition, as is the case at the end of every lease, the property manager will conduct a final inspection and compare the condition of the property to the original Property Condition Report. 

    If a tenant has been found, but the amount they have negotiated to pay per week is less than what you are currently paying, you may be required to pay the difference up until the point your original lease would have concluded. 

    What happens when your fixed-term tenancy agreement comes to an end? 

    Your fixed-term tenancy agreement will not automatically terminate on the expiry date unless you or are the landlord/property manager gives the other 30 days' written notice of termination.  

    Are you a tenant? Here are eight of the most common tenant questions answered by the REIWA Information Service.   

    REIWA's Essential Renting Guide

    What is the best way to prepare for a rent inspection? 

    The life of a tenant can be somewhat precarious, especially when it comes to rent inspections, which can cause a lot of unprecedented stress and leave you feeling insecure in your rental. 

    But this doesn't need to be the case. If you actively make an effort to look after your rental property, you shouldn't have any issues impressing your landlord or property manager.  

    To ensure you pass your rent inspection with flying colours, we spoke with Head of Property Management at Professionals Michael Johnson & Co, Kathryn Massey, about exactly what you can expect. 

    What condition should the property be in?

    The inspection is a tenant’s time to really showcase how well they are maintaining their property. As well as being a great catalyst for having a really thorough clean to stay on top of the bigger cleaning jobs, making it more manageable for the tenant when it comes to finalising their tenancy.  

    The condition of the property should be as close to as it was when the tenant moved in, allowing for some wear and tear. The gardens and outdoor areas are just as important as the inside and should be neat, tidy and weed free. The whole property itself is checked at inspection and therefore should be clean and tidy. 

    What are the five most important things property managers check? 

    Routine inspections are carried out to ensure the property is well cared for and to check if there are any maintenance or health and safety issues. A routine inspection is not a housework inspection; the property manager or landlord inspecting the property appreciate that people are living there, so if your bed isn’t made or your breakfast dishes are still in the sink, we won’t be as concerned.  

    The top things property managers look for when completing routine inspections are:  

    • General tidiness and cleanliness of the property. 
    • Gardens should be tidy, edged, weeded and rubbish free. 
    • Evidence of any breach of the lease agreement. For example, any extra people or pets residing at the property without consent. 
    • Maintenance/damage at the property whether it be the tenant's or owner's responsibility to rectify. 
    • Any deterioration of the property that may become a potential hazard, like cracking on walls or ceilings, trip hazards, loose balcony railings, overgrown trees, state of gutters and down-pipes that the owner may be required to attend to. 

    What are the common things tenants usually forget about?  

    Most tenants do a fabulous job preparing their homes for routine inspections, however things can be missed. A few areas that seemed to be missed quite often include: 

    • Dust build up on light fittings, skirting boards and exhaust fans. 
    • Cobwebs (particularly to external areas). 
    • Walls, shower screens and ovens should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent a much bigger job at the end of the tenancy.  
    • Carpet cleaning is sometimes required prior to the end of a tenancy especially if accidental spills have occurred. If the carpet is cleaned straight away rather than leaving it until the end of the tenancy, there is a far greater chance of not ending up with a bond deduction for damage at the end of the tenancy.  

    For more advice and top tips while renting, visit our rental advice page.