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Anger Over New Rental Laws

20 November 2012

Every rental property in WA will have to meet tougher new standards for doors and window locks under a State Government plan criticised by the real estate industry for adding unnecessary red tape to drive up tenants' costs.

Under changes to the Residential Tenancies Act due to be introduced next year, every rental property must have a minimum of a single deadbolt lock on every front and back door, locks on all other external doors and windows.

The plan, which emanated from Simon O'Brien's Department of Commerce, has been criticised by Liberal backbencher Michael Sutherland, who wrote to Mr O'Brien last week to complain on behalf of constituents.

"I am amazed that the Government is getting down to this level of minutiae," Mr Sutherland wrote.

"The Liberal Party is a party of free enterprise and yet we continue to put through more petty regulations."

It is understood the proposed minimum standards are less onerous than the department originally proposed but they have still annoyed the Real Estate Institute of WA, which described them as excessive and unreasonable.

"The proposals do not appear to be realistic expectations upon owners and exceed the security levels that the average home owner would have," a REIWA spokesman said.

"Further, REIWA is unsure as to how these proposals have arisen, given that security concerns from tenants are rarely raised with REIWA in the almost 10,000 tenancy enquiries we receive each year."

Perth real estate agent Paul Collins, of Lloyd Collins Property Consultants, said in 30 years of managing thousands of rental properties, the company could recall just one instance of a tenant requesting more secure locks.

"That was very quickly sorted out after the landlord agreed to comply with the tenant's request," he said. "I've got a property now with louvre windows on a sleep-out. They don't have a lock - what's the solution there?"

Mr Collins said informal advice from REIWA was that it might cost some landlords up to $1500 to comply - costs that would be passed to tenants through higher rents.

Mr O'Brien said the regulations were a response to feedback when the Act was reviewed.

"Firstly, anti-domestic violence groups made it clear that this sort of protection was necessary for vulnerable women," he said.

"Secondly, it became clear that many tenants were finding it difficult to obtain contents insurance without adequate security.

"I believe that this legislation finds the right balance." << back to news articles
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