REIWA has called for the emergency period tenancy legislation for residential and commercial properties in Western Australia to end at the originally proposed time.
Damian Collins, president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA), has said that with the Western Australian property market returning towards normality, there was no need for the legislation to be extended. As such, he says it should end at the current proposed date of 29 September 2020.
It comes as the ACT extends the emergency period tenancy legislation for residential and commercial properties.
“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.
“During the current emergency period, REIWA members have reported that approximately 1 per cent of residential tenancies have been unable to meet their rent in WA.
“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.”
Mr Collins added: “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.”
From a landlord’s perspective, Mr Collins noted that extending the emergency period could place them in a position of increased financial hardship as they are no longer able to defer mortgage repayments, with some deciding to sell, which would further reduce rental stock available.
“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.
Impact on commercial tenancies
According to Mr Collins, during the COVID-19 emergency period, the legislation mandated agreements between landlords and tenants, “which meant landlords are obligated to reduce rents in line with the tenant’s decline in revenue”.
Extending the current emergency period would increase the financial burden already faced by many commercial landlords, Mr Collins flagged.
“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.”