The need for stronger rights for tenants with disability was highlighted by a presentation of the Building Tenancy Skills Lived Experience Team at the first Empowering Consumers with Disability Forum, an initiative of Consumer Protection.
Shelter WA, in a partnership with People with Disabilities WA (PWdWA), has been working alongside a group of people with lived experience of disability for nine months. Our work has highlighted the challenges commonly experienced. Despite the fact that tenants with disability on low incomes in private rentals have been referred to as ‘vulnerable renters’, the Residential Tenancies Act is silent on the rights of tenants with disability. This needs to be addressed.
Make Renting Fair
The forum heard from the Lived Experience Team on the challenges of renting and laid out practical solutions to make renting fair for all Western Australians, including the 111,000 people with disability who rent their home.
The Residential Tenancies Act should require that all prescribed forms are in accessible formats, and should provide for reasonable adjustments, such as additional time for completing forms, for preparing for routine inspections and to vacate. As many people with disability are living in boarding and lodging houses, we also advocated that these come under the Residential Tenancies Act. More affordable and accessible housing would also increase the options available to tenants with disability and reduce their need for formal and informal supports, increasing people’s independence.
Project Manager Dr Donna Turner acknowledged it is not easy to share a personal experience to an audience of strangers. “This team of people did exactly that, with honesty and clarity,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer at Shelter WA Michelle Mackenzie said feedback on the presentation had been “incredible”. “This event was a great opportunity to explore current and evolving issues and to see how obstacles can be overcome,” Ms Mackenzie said.
Renting with Confidence Workshops
As a part of the work of the Building Tenancy Skills Co-Design Project a series of Workshops are upcoming on understanding rights when renting. These workshops will answer some of the common questions that people have when renting their home. The Workshops are free. To find out more and to book to attend a workshop, click here.