Western Australia General Rights and Obligations
Tenants and landlords owe each other certain rights and obligations. This page helps both to understand their roles during the tenancy.
This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
What are the tenant’s rights?
Right to Vacant Possession at Start of Tenancy
The tenant has the right to have vacant possession of the premises from the day they move in. Vacant possession means that no one apart from the tenant, including the landlord, is occupying or has the right to occupy the rented premises. When the landlord intends to also use parts of the premises, it is therefore very important that the tenancy agreement states which parts of the property are exclusively for use by the tenant and which parts are for shared use.
In shared accommodation, vacant possession is particularly important. If a person is renting a room in a shared house, they will have exclusive possession over their room, and shared use of the other facilities and rooms of the house, such as the bathroom or kitchen. In this situation, the tenant is therefore entitled to vacant possession of their room. The tenancy agreement should clearly state which parts of the property are for exclusive use by the tenant, and which parts are for shared use.
Right to Quiet Enjoyment of the Premises
The tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of the rented premises without interruption by the landlord. This means that the landlord is under an obligation not to do anything or to allow anything to happen which may interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of the tenant during the tenancy.
There is no set list of things that are interferences or interruptions of quiet enjoyment. However, there are a number of common examples where the landlord is infringing on the rights of the tenant:
- attempting to evict a tenant when not allowed to do so
- the landlord entering the premises when not allowed to do so
- the landlord retaining or using part of the premises contrary to the tenancy agreement
- excessive noise
- excessive dust
- interference by the landlord with facilities provided with the tenancy
- failing to carry out repairs when required to do so
- interfering with the tenant’s access to the rented premises
- overcrowding of the rented premises caused by the landlord
In share accommodation where the landlord lives in the same property, respecting the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is particularly important. The landlord should understand that the tenant has the right to use rented premises without unreasonable or unnecessary disturbances. The best way to avoid any problems arising is for the landlord and tenant to discuss at the beginning of the tenancy how the share accommodation will work in practice.
The landlord must also take reasonable steps to prevent any neighbouring tenants of the landlord from interfering with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property. This means that if the landlord is aware that their neighbouring tenants are interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the rented premises by the affected tenant, then they must take action to stop or prevent the neighbouring tenants from doing so. What amounts to ‘reasonable steps’ will depend on how serious the interference is by the neighbours.
In share accommodation where the landlord has multiple tenants under separate agreements in one property, it is very important that the landlord ensures that the tenants do not interfere with each other’s quiet enjoyment of the premises. The best way to avoid any problems from arising is to introduce the tenants to each other and discuss how the share accommodation will work in practice.
The landlord does not have responsibility for neighbours of the tenant who are not also tenants of the landlord.
What are the tenant’s obligations?
The tenant has a number of obligations during the tenancy, which are listed below. The tenant will be responsible for any breach of these obligations. The tenant will also be liable if the breach is caused by any person who is lawfully at the premises with the tenants permission, such as a guest or occupant.
Obligation to Keep Premises Clean
Throughout the tenancy, the tenant must keep the premises reasonably clean. This generally means that the tenant should aim to keep the rented premises in the same or a better state of cleanliness than it was at the start of the tenancy.
Obligation to Avoid Damage to Premises
The tenant must not intentionally or negligently cause or allow damage to the rented premises. Damage can be to any part of the premises. It is for the landlord to prove that the tenant actually caused the damage.
Obligation to Notify Landlord of Damage to the Premises
If the tenant becomes aware of any damage to any part of the premises, then they must inform the landlord as soon as possible. If the tenant does not notify the landlord despite knowing about the damage, the tenant may be liable for any amount of the damage that was caused because they failed to notify the landlord.
Obligation to not Use Premises Illegally
The tenant must not use the rented premises for an illegal purpose. Examples of an illegal purpose include: cultivating, storing or hiding illegal drugs, storing or hiding stolen goods, or operating as an illegal brothel or casino.
Obligation to Avoid Nuisances
The tenant must not cause or allow nuisance. Examples of nuisances can include excessive noise, violence, unpleasant smells, rubbish, car parking, criminal activity, harassing neighbours, or other offensive behaviour.
What are the landlord’s obligations?
Obligation to Ensure No Legal Impediments to Occupation
The landlord must ensure that the tenant is legally allowed to occupy the rented premises as a residence. Legal impediments to using a rented premises as a residence commonly include environmental planning restrictions, health and safety regulations, or government orders. This means that the landlord should make enquiries before renting a premises to determine whether it can be used as a residence.
Obligation to Provide Premises in Clean Condition
At the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord must provide the premises to the tenant in a reasonably clean condition. If the premises are not clean when the tenant moves in, the landlord will be liable for the cleaning costs. The landlord should consider the condition of the carpets, walls, bathrooms, kitchens, and any appliances when making sure the premises is clean.
Obligation to Comply with Health and Safety Laws
The landlord must make sure that the premises complies with any relevant health and safety laws that may apply to the premises.
These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.