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REIWA: Emergency period tenancy legislation “needs to end”

As the ACT becomes the first state or territory to extend its emergency period tenancy legislation, Damian Collins, president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA), has said there is no need for the legislation to be extended in Western Australia.

Mr Collins believes the legislation should end as initially planned, on September 29, 2020.

“The emergency legislation was introduced on the basis that the WA economy would face a far greater shock than it actually did, and while we understand that the economy is certainly not as strong as it was pre-COVID, applying emergency legislation to all tenancies is not the appropriate response to those who may need assistance,” Mr Collins said.

According to reports from REIWA members, only 1 per cent of residential tenants have been unable to meet their rent in WA during the current emergency period.

“For the vast majority of residential tenants who have been only moderately affected by COVID, the rental market should return to the normal supply and demand fundamentals.

“It’s not fair that owners, who in fact may be suffering more than the tenants, are not able to exercise their normal rights under the lease.

“With the current vacancy rate sitting at 2 per cent, we can’t afford for landlords to take their properties out of the private rental market, as not only will this impact stock levels, it may also increase the median weekly rent,” he said.

He warns that the impact on commercial landlords being required to continue to “reduce rents in line with the tenant’s decline in revenue” could cause further chaos.

“Commercial landlords have worn the pain during the downturn, and now that many tenants are back to normal or near-normal trading conditions, it’s only fair that tenants be expected to meet their obligations under the lease agreements they have entered into,” he explained.

“Landlords generally want to keep tenants in most instances, and I am sure that most landlords will work with tenants who need help regardless of whether or not they have legislation in place.

“However, moving forward and applying emergency legislation to the entire market is simply not warranted, and the WA government should let the legislation end on 29 September, 2020.”

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