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?
Rent is a regular payment made by the tenant(s) to the landlord in return for the right of use of the property or room.
The tenant is required to pay the rent to the landlord on the day that the rent is due. The tenant can also choose to pay rent before the due date.
There are restrictions on the types of payments that a landlord can receive from a tenant during a tenancy. Rent is one of types of payment allowed. The Security Bond and charges for utilities are the other main types of payments allowed during the tenancy.
There are some restrictions on how much landlords can require as rent in advance.
A tenant can volunteer to pay as much rent in advance as they wish.
The maximum amount that the landlord can require the tenant to pay for rent in advance is 2 weeks’ rent.
Once rent in advance has been paid, the landlord cannot require the tenant to pay any further rent until it becomes due.
The method of paying rent should be agreed to by the tenant and landlord in the residential tenancy agreement. It is recommended that the tenant and landlord agree on an alternative means of payment in case issues arise with the main method.
The landlord cannot require the tenant to pay rent by cheque. The tenant can volunteer to pay the rent by cheque however.
The most popular ways of paying rent in a share accommodation situation are via direct bank transfers or in cash
Other payment methods could include cheque, credit card, BPAY or PayPal. Never pay rent via an untraceable money transfer system such as Western Union.
It is best practice for the landlord to not require the tenant to pay rent in a method that incurs a fee for transfer or deposit of funds. This includes fees charged by third party payment systems.
Keeping track of rent payments through receipts and other permanent, written records is an important part of securing a tenancy and preventing any issues from arising.
In Western Australia, the landlord (or agent) must give a receipt to the tenant for all rent payments, except direct bank transfers. The receipt must be given within 3 business days of when the payment is received.
No receipt is required for electronic bank transfer payments. This is because the electronic transaction record acts as a permanent record of the payment. Although this is sufficient, a written receipt gives greater certainty and clarity.
Although receipts are not always required by law depending on the way rent is paid, asking for and giving receipts regardless of payment method is best practice for landlords and tenants alike. In the unlikely event that a dispute arises regarding payment of rent, receipts are the main form of evidence used.
What should be in the receipt?
The receipt should clearly indicate that it is a receipt—it is advisable for each receipt to be a separate document rather than entries in a rent receipt book.
When a receipt is given, it should include the following details:
The landlord is also required to keep a record of rent paid, regardless of whether a receipt was given for the payments. The record should include the following details for each payment:
Although it is not required by law, if the tenant requests a copy of the rental records from the landlord, it is best practice for the landlord to provide the record so that all parties are aware of the history of the tenancy agreement.
Landlords are allowed to increase the amount of rent payable during the course of the tenancy. For the protection and certainty of both parties, there are restrictions on the when and how rent can be increased. In Western Australia, the restrictions vary depending on the nature of the tenancy agreement.
Although not required by law in all tenancy situations it is best practice to provide details any future rent increases in the residential tenancy agreement. This ensures that the parties are aware of that possibility and can be prepared.
When rent can be increased
Rent can only be increased if the tenant is given at least 60 days written notice. The landlord must use the official rent increase form provided by the Western Australian Government. The form can be found here.
Rent can only be increased at least 6 months since the beginning of the tenancy. There can only be one increase in rent every 6 months subsequent to the first increase in rent.
As mentioned above, the rent under a fixed term tenancy agreement can only be increased if the agreement allows for an increase. The agreement should state either the increased rent amount, or at least a method for calculating the increased rent. While this is not required for a periodic agreement, it is in all parties’ best interests to at least discuss the potential for a rent increase during the course of the tenancy.
If the agreement contains a term that prohibits any rent increases, then the landlord cannot increase the rent at any time.
When a fixed term tenancy agreement continues after the fixed term has ended, it then becomes a periodic agreement. Therefore, after the end of the term, the rules for periodic agreements apply in place of the fixed term rules.
A fixed term tenancy is where the tenancy agreement has a specific length agreed to by the tenant and landlord, e.g. 6 months. A periodic tenancy is where the tenancy agreement has no specific length agreed to, e.g. Month-to-month
60 Days Written Notice
The requirement of 60 days written notice for any rent increase allows both the tenant and landlord time to discuss and prepare for any increase. Any increase in rent that does not follow this requirement is not considered valid.
To ensure that this requirement is met, use the rent increase form provided by the Western Australian Government, which can be found here.
Rent increases during a tenancy agreement renewal
When the same tenant and landlord renew a lease for the same property immediately after the end of the original lease, the landlord cannot require the tenant to pay a rental rate higher than was in place under the original agreement for the first 30 days of the new tenancy agreement.
If the tenant believes that the rental rate has become excessive, the first step should be to discuss the issue with the landlord. If the landlord and tenant cannot come to an agreement, then the tenant can apply to the Western Australia Magistrates Court for a review of the increase. Check out our Resolving Disputes page for more information.
Rent can be considered excessive because of an increase in rent, or because the quality or nature of the premises has been reduced while the rent remains the same.
The Magistrates Court has the power to change and set the rent payable under an agreement.
The rent under a tenancy agreement may also be reduced. In Western Australia, the tenant and landlord can agree to reduce the rent payable at any time.
Transferring money safely
When paying your deposit, bond or rent by cash make sure you get a receipt. With modern phones this can be as simple as an SMS or email confirming the amount, date and what it is for. Keep a copy of this incase you need it later.
Never ever transfer money to a bank account outside of Australia or use a untraceable money transfer system such as WESTERN UNION. If anyone asks you to do this on any website it is likely to be a scam and you are almost guaranteed to lose your money.
If this ever happens on Flatmates.com.au report the member immediately so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.
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.