Renting residential property
Property owners have the right to request an Option Fee with a tenant's application to rent a property.
Some owners require this fee, whilst others don’t. Essentially an option agreement grants a right but not an obligation for the applicant to enter into the lease.
It works like this;
- If the rent is under $500 per week, the Option Fee is $50.
- If the rent is between $500 and $1,200 per week, the Option Fee is $100.
- If the rent is $1,200 per week or more, then the Option Fee is capped at $1,200.
The only exception to the above schedule is that if the property is above the 26th parallel (basically from Carnarvon and north, including the Pilbara and Kimberley), then the Option Fee cannot be more than $50 or $100 per week.
For all homes from Carnarvon south, including metropolitan Perth, the Option Fee of $1,200 applies to rentals of $1,200 per week or more.
If an application is successful, the owner grants the applicant the right but not the obligation to enter into a lease agreement. The Option Fee is for that right.
The applicant then has an agreed period of time to decide whether they want to sign the lease. A person may wish for an Option Fee because a suitable property has been found but the person is waiting upon their partner to also view the property.
If the applicant enters into the lease then the Option Fee goes towards the rent. If the successful applicant decides not to enter into the lease then the option fee is retained by the owner.
If an application is unsuccessful, then the money paid for an Option Fee will be fully refunded.
The Residential Tenancies Act merely requires that ground floor windows be lockable from inside as opposed to having a keyed lock.
Many insurance companies will provide contents policies for tenants in homes that do not have window locks. Make sure you read the fine print in these policies to determine what type of lock is required.
Prior to entering into a tenancy agreement, it is important to look at the security features and determine if they are suitable and will be covered by your preferred insurer.
We recommend you shop around to find an insurance company that suits your circumstances and satisfies your requirements.
Where should I look for properties?
These days most people use reiwa.com to find properties available to rent, however rentals can also be found in local newspapers.
If you find a property that attracts your interest contact the real estate agency to learn about opportunities to view the property in person.
What do I do once I find a property I'm interested in?
After viewing the property you can then make an application for it using standardised forms. These will be provided by the property manager.
The application form for a Lease Agreement will require you to confirm your identity, provide references and referees where applicable, provide evidence of your financial status and to commit to the terms of the agreement as explained to you by the owner or property manager.
The application also provides you with the opportunity to put forward any special conditions you want included in the lease agreement as well as consider any special conditions the owner may want to include in the lease agreement.
You may be asked to pay an Option Fee during the application process.
What happens after I have sent through the application?
Once the owner or property manager has considered your application, usually within one or two days, you will be contacted and advised of the outcome.
If successful, you can then make arrangements to meet with the property manager to sign a Lease Agreement.
You will also be required to pay two week’s rent in advance, plus a security bond. If you are permitted to keep a pet then your security bond can be increased by an extra $260.
The tenant’s security bond is lodged with the Bond Administrator which is a section of the State Government’s Department of Commerce.
Your rights and responsibilities are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.
Owners who manage their properties privately often underestimate the time and expertise this takes, especially if they fall foul of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and end up in legal difficulties.
A property manager is usually local to an area or has a long working relationship and familiarity with it. This is a huge advantage when it comes to appraising the rent.
It also means that the property manager can review the rent from time to time in the context of what’s happening in the market and by using specialised data from REIWA that is not always available directly to the public.
Other benefits to hiring a property manager are:
- Property managers are trained in the application of the RTA and therefore can advise owners and tenants of their rights and obligations.
- Property managers have a ready supply of tenants and the means to check references and tenant databases.
- Property managers are trained to report in detail on the condition of a home and have the expertise and experience to maintain the home at a satisfactory and safe standard.
- Property managers fulfil the duty of care for your asset.
- Professional managers are skilled at supplying accounts and details of income and expenditure so that your taxation return can be completed.
- A property manager is a skilled negotiator, communicator and go-between for you and the tenant. This professional distance can be a relief and advantage if things get tricky.
- Most property managers charge a percentage of the weekly rent as their fee, which is fully tax deductible at the end of the financial year.
When hiring a property manager approach those who attract your interest and talk to them about their fees and services.
It is a deregulated market so take the time to shop around for the right agency and business model that meet your requirements.
Urgent repairs are defined by the Residential Tenancies Act and fall into two categories: repairs that are necessary for the supply or restoration of an essential service and other urgent repairs.
Essential services are listed as electricity, gas, a functioning refrigerator (if one is provided with the premises), waste water management treatment and water generally, including the supply of hot water.
Arrangements for repairs that are necessary to supply or restore an essential service must be made with a suitable repairer within 24 hours.
Urgent repairs are those that are not necessary for the supply or restoration of an essential service, but may nevertheless cause damage to the premises, injure a person or cause undue hardship or inconvenience to the tenant e.g. a broken window.
Arrangements for these repairs must be made within 48 hours.
In every tenancy, if the need for urgent repair is required other than as a result of a breach of the agreement by the tenant the following must be adhered to:
- The tenant is to notify the owner or the property manager of the need for urgent repairs as soon as practicable.
- The owner is to ensure that the repairs are carried out by a suitable repairer as soon as practicable after that notification.
- If within 24 hours (in the case of repairs for the supply or restoration of essential services or 48 hours in the case of other urgent repairs), the owner or property manager cannot be contacted, or the owner fails to ensure that the repairs are carried out by a suitable repairer, the tenant may then arrange for the repairs to be carried out to the minimum extent necessary to effect those repairs.
- If a tenant arranges for repairs to be carried out, the owner must, as soon as practicable reimburse the tenant for any reasonable expense incurred by the tenant in arranging for those repairs to be done.
REIWA forms are copyright for use by REIWA members only. However, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety administers the Residential Tenancies Act and provide some forms.
You can find relevant information by visiting the Department's website or by phoning 1300 30 40 54.
This is a standard agreement whereby the owner agrees to allow the tenant to occupy the owner’s property under specified terms and conditions.
This is called a 'lease agreement' and it is mandatory that the content of the lease, as prescribed in the Residential Tenancies Regulations, is used.
This form can be identified by “Form 1AA”. The Lease has three parts - Part A, Part B and Part C.
The wording of Parts A and B cannot be altered or deleted.
Part A specifies the variables:
- The identity of the tenant, owner and the property.
- The type of tenancy (fixed or periodic).
- The amount of the rent, when and how it will be paid.
- How many people are permitted to occupy the premises.
- If pets are permitted.
- Who is to pay for water consumption.
- The amount of the security bond.
Part B addresses the general rights and obligations under the lease.
Part C is where the owner and the tenant come to an agreement on other conditions that may apply to the lease that have not been addressed in Parts A and B.
The additional conditions in Part C cannot go against the conditions in Parts A and B, must not be illegal, cannot go against the Residential Tenancies Act nor the Regulations and must not breach the Fair Trading Act.
Property owners are responsible for their rental property having a minimum level of security in place.
The minimum security relates to door locks, window locks and exterior lights, which is specified Residential Tenancies Regulations 1989.
All rental properties must be in line with the minimum security standards specified in the regulations as of 1 July 2015.
The standards now ensure all external ground level doors have deadlocks.
Deadlocks are not required if the doors are matched with lockable security screen doors of Australian Standards. In this situation, regular locks are sufficient on the inner door.
Windows must have reasonable locks or latches to ensure they cannot be opened from the outside.
A porch light must be present near the main entry door and operational from inside the dwelling.
For more information, view the Department of Commerce's Rental property security standards page.
The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is legislation by the Western Australian Parliament to regulate the relationship between owners and tenants.
It was first established in 1987, but was modernised, updated and amended in 2013.
It establishes the rule of law to ensure the business relationship between the property owner and the tenants is fair and reasonable to both parties. It applies rights and responsibilities on both parties that must be adhered to.
The most recent amendments to the RTA came into effect on 1 July 2013.
This is a common question that is difficult to answer as it always depends upon the particular set of circumstances.
Reasonable wear and tear is generally considered to be;
- changes which happen during the normal use of the premises or their fixtures or fittings
- changes which happen due to the natural ageing of premises or their fixtures or fittings
A definition commonly enforced by the court system is that; “reasonable wear and tear means the reasonable use of the house by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces.”
Examples of what could be considered wear and tear include:
- Paint fading and discolouring over time.
- Plaster cracks in walls as building settles.
- Worn carpets from day-to-day use
It is a common misconception that the first two weeks rent is held to the end of the lease. In fact, the two weeks rent you pay at the start of your lease pays for the first two weeks you live in the property. It is not held to the end and you will be required to pay rent to the last day of your tenancy.
In the section of your lease titled “Maximum Number of Occupants” you will have agreed to the number of people who can live at the premises at any one time.
If the addition of a “housemate” will exceed this agreed maximum, then you will need to make a written request to the owner through the property manager.
The request should clarify whether the “housemate” will take on the responsibilities of a tenant or will merely be an additional occupant.
Even if the addition of the “housemate” as an occupant falls within the agreed “Maximum Number of Occupants”, the personal details of the “housemate” must be provided for use in emergency situations.
While it is possible to find accommodation while you are outside of Australia, it would be easier to apply for properties when you are in Australia.
When you first arrive consider taking on some short term accommodation so that you can determine which areas are best suited to your lifestyle and budget.
Other useful documentation would be a rental reference from your current agent/owner and evidence of your recent past income, ie wages and salaries. If you have been paying a mortgage, then a record of those mortgage payments would assist in satisfying the agent of your payment history.
Character references are not essential but can be helpful where appropriate, such as from a parent, tutor, guardian, employer, Justice of the Peace (Notary Public), GP, local police officer, Member of Parliament or church elder.
If your application is successful and you progress to signing a lease agreement, you will need to prove your identity with a classic Proof of Identity 100 point check.
Usually this means providing evidence such as a current passport, drivers licence, bank statements, utility bills in your name, citizenship certificate or a combination of these or other documents to establish your bona fides.
In-going costs to rent a property in Western Australia would generally be two weeks rent in advance, a security bond equivalent to four weeks rent and sometimes the option fee.
Ultimately it is the owner’s responsibility.
The Building Regulations 2012 require owners, who make their dwellings available for rent or hire, to ensure that each alarm installed in the dwelling is in working order.
The property manager will normally discuss with the owner how they should comply with their obligation under the Regulations.
Health and safety should be taken seriously by everyone and therefore it would be prudent for tenants to take on some responsibility for their own safety by regularly maintaining the smoke alarms.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services recommends the following smoke alarm maintenance routine:
- Test your smoke alarm every month to ensure the battery and the alarm sounder are operating.
- Vacuum your smoke alarm with a soft brush attachment around the smoke alarm vents every six months.
In order to bring a fixed term tenancy to an end at the agreed termination date, either the tenant or the owner must provide 30 days’ notice.
If the notice is provided within 30 days of the termination date, then the lease will terminate 30 days from when the date of the notice was given.
If both the tenant and the owner provide different notices, then the earlier of the two dates will apply.
If no notice is given prior to the expiry date of the fixed term tenancy, then the tenancy will continue as a periodic tenancy until either party wishes to terminate the lease. In this instance, the tenant is required to give 21 days’ notice and the owner is required to give 60 days’ notice.
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