WA landlords and agents flouting laws with unannounced visits

NO NOTICE: WA's Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe says surprise visits to rental properties are illegal, and unacceptable. Photo: Supplied
NO NOTICE: WA's Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe says surprise visits to rental properties are illegal, and unacceptable. Photo: Supplied

WA consumer protection has issued a warning to landlords and real estate agents following reports of surprise visits being carried out on rental properties.

Tenants are claiming that landlords or their agents are turning up at their residence unannounced for a variety of reasons, including maintenance issues and rent collection.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said surprise visits were "totally unacceptable".

"Tenancy laws in WA set out clear procedures for landlords or their agents to access the rental property for inspections or other purposes, and tenants have the right to refuse entry if these procedures are not carried out," Mr Newcombe said.

....even if they are behind in paying their rent, there is no excuse for landlords or agents to visit the tenant without the required notices being issued...

Gary Newcombe, Commissioner for Consumer Protection

"Tenants are entitled to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their rental home and, even if they are behind in paying their rent, there is no excuse for landlords or agents to visit the tenant without the required notices being issued and agreement being reached about the timing.

"There are separate rules relating to emergency or urgent repairs, but generally a tenant should be given seven to 14 days' notice and be provided a notification which sets out the mutually agreed day and time and reasons for the inspection which are limited to four a year.

"On the other hand, tenants should not unreasonably withhold permission for access to the property by being difficult and, in doing so, could put themselves in breach of their lease and create a risk of eviction."

So far this year, Consumer Protection has received 29 complaints and 58 enquiries regarding unexpected visits.

In 2020, there were 19 complaints and 83 enquiries.

Mr Newcombe said surprise tenancy visits were illegal, and said landlords and agents should be clear in their obligations.

"If the owner or agent wants to show the property to prospective renters at the end of a tenancy, or prospective buyers if the home is on the market, they must give tenants 'reasonable' notice," he said.

"If notice is given and the tenant doesn't advise the day/time is unsuitable, only then are they entitled to enter the property even if the tenant is not at home."

He reminded tenants not to allow surprise visits under any circumstances, to avoid setting a precedent.

"In these situations, tenants should state clearly that it must not happen again and insist the proper process be carried out next time.

"There is a formal notice that tenants can issue to the owner or agent stating a breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred.

"The flouting of tenants' rights by a failure to follow the rules related to inspecting or accessing the rental property will not be tolerated and offenders may face prosecution."

Tenants who are having problems with surprise inspections are encouraged to lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website, email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

More information on renting a home is available here.

This story Landlords, property managers warned over 'surprise' tenancy visits first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.