The latest announcements from Shelter WA
A group of 18 housing, ageing and disability advocacy organisations, as well as Shelter WA, have signed an open letter calling for Commerce Minister, the Hon. Roger Cook MLA to adopt the updated accessibility requirements for residential buildings.
Read the Open Letter here.
In Western Australia, one in five people live with a disability and our ageing population is continuing to grow. Despite this, we continue to accept that a significant proportion of our population must either reside in homes that they cannot easily enter, move around in, or be forced to move into alternative accommodation.
State and territory building ministers will meet today as hosts to the Albanese government to review the provisions for residential housing and apartments in the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 based on Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards.
Western Australia’s leading animal rescue organisations have joined forces to call on the State Government to strengthen WA’s rental laws as current ‘no ground’ evictions and banned pets have resulted in large numbers of animals being surrendered at their shelters.
The RSPCA WA, Cat Haven and the Dogs’ Refuge Home have collectively written to the Premier calling for reform of the WA Residential Tenancies Act to allow pets to live in rental homes and the removal of ‘no ground’ evictions so people have the confidence to ask landlords if they can keep a pet in their home.
They argued that these two amendments alone would go a long way to making renting a more stable, secure and safe housing option for the 700,000 renters in Western Australia.
The Dogs’ Refuge Home reported 297 animals surrender applications in the first three months of 2022, with many people contacting them in emergency after other options for their dog had fallen through or an alternative couldn’t be found.
Dogs’ Refuge General Karen Rhodes said the large majority of those surrendered were from people unable to keep their animals due to the current laws.
“WA’s animal shelters are witnessing the heartbreaking impact of current tenancy law on both animals and their owners,” she said.
In 2022, Cat Haven cared for over 50 cats under their Emergency Boarding program with an expected number of more than 120 by the end of the year.
Cat Haven CEO Roz Robinson said some of the cats had been in care for over 4 months while their owners looked for suitable accommodation.
The Cat Haven has also received 1,525 owner surrenders in 2022 so far with many of these being from the lack of pet-friendly rentals on the market,” she said.
“There has been a significant rise in pet surrenders due to rental housing issues. The majority of rental properties do not allow pets, and when people are evicted and need to find a new home, securing a rental where they can take their pet is very difficult.”
RSPCA Chair Lynne Bradshaw said the current low number of rental properties available in Western Australia, coupled with the increase in many rental prices resulted in a sad consequence of renters who find themselves unable to secure accommodation that will accept their family pet.
“Sadly, many people have had to make the heartbreaking choice between surrendering their beloved pet or putting a roof over their family’s heads,” she said.
“As competition increases for rentals, it is sadly less likely for an application with pets to be accepted. Animal shelter staff regularly see the trauma of owners surrendering their pet, many of whom are viewed as family members. These owners are distraught having to have made the decision to either keep their pet or a home.”
Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said a snapshot of available rentals on 18 August 2022 found 2592 WA rentals were listed on realestate.com.au, but only 384 properties or 14.8 per cent were listed as ‘pets considered’.
“We know people don’t want to give up their pets and we believe that the lack of rental security means tenants aren’t comfortable even asking if they can have a pet, fearing it will lead to eviction when their lease period ends,” she said.
“We have 700,000 renters in WA and they are living in homes where they can be evicted without any reason. Add to that the pressure of having to give up a beloved pet and it’s a very sad story for many people in the rental market.”
Fast facts and No grounds evictions and fixed term evictions clarifier
Shelter WA – Sarah Quinton 0439439233
RSPCA – Alex Newbegin 0437069853
Dogs’ Refuge – Karen Rhodes 0421 900 225
Cat Haven – Amber Ashford 0498111272
Independent polling has found overwhelming support for removing “no reason” evictions and ensuring other recommended protections, including a majority of landlords in favour of these reforms.
Polling released this morning by the Make Renting Fair campaign reveals that a large majority of West Australians support changes to make the rental market fairer.
The polling, conducted by Painted Dog Research, surveyed 819 Western Australians and shows 74 per cent support for removing “no reason” evictions and 74 per cent support for limiting rent increases to once a year.
Importantly polling showed an outright majority of private landlord’s support both changes, with 55 per cent support for removing no reason evictions and 58 per cent support for limiting rent increases from people who own a tenanted residential investment property.
These responses contradict recent claims from the real estate industry that these proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, if implemented by the government, will cause investors to leave the market.
Instead, 73 per cent of West Australians overall and 57 per cent of landlords, report that they support reforms to make the rental market fairer for tenants.
Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, said, “Reforms to remove no reason terminations, limit rent increases and allow minor modifications to properties without penalty are backed overwhelmingly majority of West Australians, including a majority of landlords. This corroborates our independent review of the REIWA research, by the University of NSW, which showed that the methodology and assumptions within the REIWA study was flawed and not sound.
“Majority of Western Australians support increased security.”
“These findings should give the government confidence that the majority of Western Australians support increased security and stability for tenants in the WA rental market,” Louise Giolitto, CEO of WA Council of Social Services (WACOSS) said.
The polling also looked at other ways someone may have been impacted in their rental housing in the last twelve months.
Regrettably, the polling found that 1 in 20 tenants have experienced a “no reason” eviction in just the past 12 months, and nearly a quarter of tenants (24 per cent) fearful to ask for basic repairs to their home because of fear of eviction.
In response to record rental inflation in the last two years, 32 per cent of tenants reported receiving significant rent increases over the past year.
Almost a third (31 per cent) of tenants reported they are living in fear that the owner will sell the rental home and they will have nowhere to move.
“Stress and fear.”
Sarah Kane, CEO of Circle Green Community Legal, said: “It is heartbreaking that so many tenants currently live in such a state of stress and fear but in the current rental market, with rents increasing by 30 per cent over the past two years and a record low vacancy rate, it is unsurprising so many renters report feeling this pressure.”
Support for specific changes to tenancy laws:
Support for specific changes to tenancy laws:
Specific ways renters may have been impacted in their rental housing in the last twelve months:
The polling was conducted in August 2022 by Painted Dog Research group operating in line with the international standard for market, opinion and Social Research (ISO 20252). The sample size is n=819, with a survey error of 3.96 per cent at the 95 per cent level of confidence. All survey participants were over 18 years of age and include residents from the Perth metropolitan and regional areas.
(SHWA-2) To what extent would you support or oppose initiatives that aim to:
(SHWA-12) Recently, proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, have been reviewed. To what extent do you support or oppose:
(SHWA-13) Below are some other ways someone may or may not have been negatively impacted by the housing market in the last twelve months. Please select any which are true for you: