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November update: What renters reported

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The Make Renting Fair campaign has been gaining momentum as we continue to advocate for much-needed tenancy law reforms in WA.

This month we’ve been focusing on the impact of no reason evictions, and have released a huge report on preliminary findings coming in from our 2022 Renters Survey on the impact of WA’s unfair eviction laws and in particular, the way renters feel too scared assert their rights for things like repairs, maintenance and even privacy.

You can find our media release here. 

We found, based on over 200 responses so far, that:

  • WA’s renter profile is extremely insecure. Almost one quarter of respondents were on rolling, periodic leases which can be ended without reason with 60 days’ notice. The majority (53 per cent) were on short term 12-month fixed term tenancies that can be ended at the end of the tenancy without reason. Just 4 per cent had a fixed term lease of 2 years.
  • The experience of and fear for unfair evictions is significant. Over their entire history as a renter more than one in six respondents (15 per cent) had been evicted without any reason. 
  • Fear of eviction without reason is translating to renters being too scared to assert their rights. When asked about their experience of making a request for repairs or maintenance in their current rental, 37 per cent reported being concerned the request could get them evicted, and 63 per cent were concerned the request might make the landlord less likely to renewal their lease. 
  • The experience of retaliatory eviction is significant. 16 per cent of respondents reported they had a lease not renewed due to a request of their landlord during the tenancy. 
  • The fear of no reason eviction is forcing tenants to live in homes with significant health, safety, and comfort issues. When asked about their current rental,
    • 56 per cent reported issues with leaks, dampness or mould
    • 49 per cent reported issues with locks, doors and windows
    • 55 per cent reported difficulty keeping the property cool or warm
    • 32 per cent reported issues with hot water
    • 31 per cent reported storm or rain damage
    • 27 per cent reported a lack of fly screen; and 
    • 17% reported major structural repairs were needed
  • The fear of no reason eviction is also forcing tenants to assert their right to quiet enjoyment and even endure invasions of privacy. 61 per cent of respondents are having a rental inspection every three months (currently allowed under WA tenancy laws) but 67 per cent are unhappy with the frequency of inspections and on average over half report feeling stressed or anxious about the frequency of inspections and anxious about the landlord taking photos or videos during the inspection. Alarmingly, 12% have caught a landlord or property agent going through my private belongings, cupboards or drawers. 

These survey results reaffirm why it is so important we have stronger tenancy protections for renters in WA. These results will unfortunately be unsurprising to the majority of West Australians, as a community we are well aware of the significant disadvantage renters face in finding and maintaining secure accommodation, overwhelmingly through no fault of their own.

As Alice Pennycott, Principal Lawyer, Tenancy, Circle Green said, 

“These stories from members of our community highlight the complete imbalance of power between tenants and investors, and they paint a clear picture of people suffering in silence, in properties with significant repair issues, health and safety concerns, and egregious breaches of their privacy, because the alternative is being made homeless without any recourse.”

“The absence of minimum standards combined with extremely insecure tenure is resulting in an overwhelming number of renters too scared to assert their right to a home that is in a reasonable state of repair. This has to change”.

“The stories are not just from a small number of transient renters on their way through to home ownership – these are Western Australian families with young children, retirees, people with disability; all of whom are likely to be renting for a significant period and in many cases, renting for life.”

“We knew maintenance and repair issues were a huge problem for renters, but didn’t know just how bad it was – these results show two thirds of renters are having problems with leaks, dampness or mould, and one in three are having issues with hot water in their current rental. If we extrapolate these findings to all WA renters it literally means hundreds of thousands of renters are living in substandard conditions – and they’re too afraid to ask to get it fixed for fear of eviction.”

“So long as our laws continue to allow evictions without any reason, Western Australian families are going to continue to put up with uncomfortable or unsafe conditions just to keep a roof over their heads.” 

In great news this month we were proud to welcome two new members to the Alliance: the Women’s Legal Servcie WA (WLSWA) and the WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH).

Please consider supporting the campaign and joining us formally – you can help us secure these crucial reforms and a fairer WA – here’s how!

  • Would you consider asking your members or allies to also join the campaign formally and becoming a member of the Make Renting Fair Alliance? We’d love to have your logo on our website, and share media and advocacy opportunities with you.  For more information please contact chantal@shelterwa.org.au 
  • Share our Renters Survey with your staff, clients and members and help us reach 1,000 renters! It takes 10 minutes and will help us provide the most compelling evidence for long overdue changes to our tenancy laws. Take the Survey Here.
  • To find out more about the campaign keep an eye on (or share) the stories and breaking news we’re rolling out on our Facebook page 
A graphic with a quote reading "I find the overall situation stressful as I feel any minor issue might be used against me to not renew my lease. Since then, myself and my children have been homeless and trying to stay with family in Perth - the kids have had to go back to the country at times when the pressure in the city has got too much."