The latest announcements from Shelter WA
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:
Social and affordable housing in Western Australia could be delivered and managed more efficiently by the Community Housing Sector under an innovative partnership model recommended by new research released today.
The report commissioned by Shelter WA from the Paxon Group highlights how a collaboration between Government and industry, in partnership with the community housing sector, can drive the supply of social and affordable housing.
Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said the report was seminal research commissioned with funding from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) via the Community Housing Industry Association of Australia.
“Community Housing Providers (CHPs) are able to manage assets at a lower cost per tenancy because their charitable status provides tax concessions, including GST concessions, that reduce the cost to deliver and maintain housing,” she said.
“Also, their ability to leverage government funding with funding from other sources including the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, and the ability for their tenants to receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance supports the delivery of new homes. A key benefit is that CHPs reinvest any surplus back into housing to deliver more supply, retaining housing for the long-term benefit of the WA community. Some CHPs have developed important new affordable housing options for key workers, which has been critical given current pressures in the private rental market.
“This report highlights additional opportunities.”
“The research provides direction on project structures, delivery mechanisms and financing options to maximise what partnerships work best, with Paxon undertaking modelling to understand the collaborative opportunities between Government and the community housing sector, to drive new housing supply.
“Research indicates that CHPs deliver better outcomes for tenants. Also, a number of CHPs provide bespoke services for particular groups of people including seniors, Aboriginal people and people with a disability, which enables them to focus on delivering great property and tenancy management services that meet all people’s needs.”
Western Australia’s community housing sector is made up of 266 organisations, managing 22 per cent of the state’s social housing between them, with a value of almost $2.5 billion.
“The WA government has demonstrated a renewed commitment to working with the community housing sector, which is very welcome,” said Ms Mackenzie.
“Meet a greater proportion of unmet need.”
“This report highlights additional opportunities to build on this partnership enabling government funding to meet a greater proportion of unmet need.”
There are currently 25 registered CHPs, with four Tier 1 registered CHPs with varying levels of presence in WA, six Tier 2s and with the majority of CHPs Tier 3 level.
For interviews with CEO Michelle Mackenzie contact Sarah Quinton | 0439 439 233.