WA to retain no-grounds evictions despite National Cabinet guidelines
The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia has expressed its support for the WA government's decision to maintain the policy of allowing “no grounds” evictions in Western Australia, despite recent guidelines issued by the National Cabinet suggesting that states consider implementing reasonable grounds for eviction.
The National Cabinet, which comprises the leaders of the Australian federal government and state and territory governments, recently ruled out rent freezes and caps, instead approving a set of guidelines on renting for states to adopt.
The guidelines put forth by the National Cabinet encompass several key provisions, including the establishment of reasonable grounds for eviction, the implementation of eviction appeal processes, the adoption of a national standard limiting rent increases to once per year, the introduction of rent bidding mechanisms, the enhancement of domestic violence protections for tenants, the restriction of break lease fees, the streamlining of rental applications, the regulation of short-stay rental accommodations, the promotion of national consistency in minimum rental standards, and other related measures.
The WA government, which conducted its own residential tenancies review just three months ago, has indicated its willingness to collaborate with other states and territories on developing a consistent policy regarding reasonable grounds for eviction while taking into account existing jurisdictional policies, REIWA reported. A spokesperson for the WA government emphasised that the state's interests would always be prioritised in any collaborative efforts.
“The best and most important policy to boost the rental market is to increase supply – and this is our number-one priority,” the spokesperson said.
The WA government had previously announced a series of reforms for renters and landlords, some of which align with the proposed guidelines from the National Cabinet. These reforms include reducing the frequency of rent increases to once every 12 months, prohibiting rent bidding practices, allowing tenants to keep pets and make minor modifications, and referring disputes to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection for resolution. The WA government said that these reforms will continue to guide its policy direction.
Cath Hart, CEO of REIWA, expressed support for the WA government's commitment to its recent reforms and pointed out that many of the recommendations put forth by the National Cabinet had already been implemented in WA.
“WA is very different to the Eastern States and, while we commend National Cabinet’s sensible approach to the rental issues facing the nation, a one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to benefit our market,” Hart said. “WA investors have made it quite clear that increasing restrictions and removing no-grounds terminations will see them leave the market and put their money into other asset classes. At a state and national level we need a legislative environment that sustains and encourages investment as we need every investor we can get. The WA government has recognised this. Their reforms offer balanced outcomes for tenants and investors and already address some of the points mentioned in the suggested guidelines.”
Housing supply challenges
In addition to the issue of eviction policies, the National Cabinet also discussed the challenge of housing supply, which has contributed to the difficult rental conditions experienced nationwide. Hart identified housing supply as the most significant challenge facing the WA market.
“WA has a dire need for more housing, for both homeowners and tenants,” she said. “Our state is facing the largest housing shortfall in the country over the coming five years according to a report from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which found WA faced a shortfall of 25,200 new properties from 2023 to 2027, out of a 106,300-dwelling shortfall nationally. We certainly welcome the federal government’s target to build 1.2 million new, well-located homes across Australia over five years from 1 July 2024, as well as the $3 billion allocated as an incentive to encourage the states to meet their housing targets.”
To support the housing supply targets, the National Planning Reform Blueprint has been introduced. This blueprint involves updating state, regional, and local strategic plans to align with housing supply goals, promoting medium and high-density housing in well-located areas close to public transportation, amenities, and employment opportunities, and streamlining approval processes.
“Planning issues have long been noted as a key obstacle to increasing housing supply and we welcome the approach to make this process easier and more uniform,” Hart said.
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