26 September 2023

Renters receive consumer advice

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Western Australian tenants are being urged by Consumer Protection to continue to pay their rent unless they are genuinely experiencing severe financial hardship.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Penny Lipscombe said the Agency had received a number of calls from concerned landlords who claimed their tenants had stopped paying rent without adequate financial cause.

“Some tenants may be exploiting the current situation,” Ms Lipscombe said.

“While the National Cabinet carefully considers the complex issue of implementing a proposed six-month moratorium on residential tenancy evictions, tenants are reminded that any moratorium will not apply to rental payments.”

She said there was a legal obligation on the part of the tenant to pay their rent in accordance with their current lease agreement.

“We are looking at ensuring that evictions are not carried out if the tenant no longer has the capacity to pay,” Ms Lipscombe said.

“Tenants should pay what they can — the proposed changes are about allowing time for tenants to get their financial situation sorted out so they can start paying rent again as soon as it is practical to do so.”

She said it was reasonable for a landlord to ask for proof of termination of employment or other evidence of financial distress, but they should not ask to look at copies of bank statements.

“These are difficult times for everybody, so we implore tenants and landlords to have honest discussions and explore options such as a rent-free period, a decrease in rent or a mutual agreement to terminate the lease without penalty,” Ms Lipscombe said.

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