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WA Property Inspections - Tenants Rights?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Paul O'Hara, 6 April 2015.

  1. Paul O'Hara

    Paul O'Hara Member

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    I am curious about the practices and procedures concerning the rights that an owner has to access a property. In the case at hand, we are talking about the State Government (WA). One frequently receives a notice headed 'Property Inspection' There are two fundamental points that concern me about this.

    (1) The letter is couched in general and not specific terms i.e. they don't state specifically what the issue is, they just want to conduct a general inspection with or without any reason. Isn't this just an invasion of privacy?

    (2) They don't state how often these inspections will be carried out, only as they put it 'regularly'. But the question is how often should these inspections be carried out? What is to prevent them dropping a letter in your letter box two weeks after the last inspection? Isn't this just a form of harassment? What does the law say about the questions of harassment and privacy, and tenants rights? Isn't and shouldn't the government be subject to certain restrictions whether they are or are not spelt out under property law? Otherwise we might just as well be living in Stalinist Russia.
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    How frequently?
    Inspecting their property is consistent with any landlord's rights. See what it says in your lease/tenancy documents.
    No.
    For a start, inspecting their property is something a landlord is entitled to do.
    Remember, it's might be your home, but it's their house.
    That said, yes, there are rules about when and how it can be done.

    Secondly, there is no right of privacy of the kind you think.
    A tenant has (what is generally called) "exclusive use" of a property.
    However, that exclusivity is not absolute - it is conditional.
    One of those conditions is that the landlord retains a right to inspect the property (just as they retain, say, the right to sell it).
    Regular and frequent are different concepts. Even an annual inspection can be "regular".
    Your lease/ tenancy paperwork will set it all out.
    I have known of public housing tenants who get more frequent visits because of complaints from elsewhere in their community about their behaviour, and/or the condition that they keep the property in.
    While an individual tenant may find a yard full of old cars and rubbish tolerable, they do live in a community, and they have (at the least) moral obligations to their neighbours to "keep it nice".
    No, it isn't harassment. But it might be greater supervision if they suspect that you are not complying with the terms of your lease.
    Don't over-worry - you are probably not the subject of a conspiracy.
     
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  3. Paul O'Hara

    Paul O'Hara Member

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    I get a little worried when someone says 'check your lease/tenancy documents'. Housing to my way of thinking is a basic human right. We cant just have people living on the streets. Public housing, as is the case with me, is a stable form of accommodation, therefore I think that there are broader issues here. After all, I could die in a public housing flat. Basically, my duty is to pay the rent, and if there is no evidence that the property is not being properly maintained then the landlord should not be there, especially in the case of public housing. Food, clothing and housing are such indispensable needs, and we cannot go back to the days when there were feudal lords and serfs. Thus I don't think we need to muddy the waters by being too legalistic. Also as a general observation, I'm convinced there are different styles and approaches in different states. Melbourne for instance is a much more liberal and permissive city than Perth, and this is reflected in a very different set of practices. I don't think there is any where near as much of an appreciation in Perth for the need to maintain a genuinely egalitarian spirit.
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    Shelter is a human right.
    But your relationship to Housing WA is contractual.
     
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  5. Paul O'Hara

    Paul O'Hara Member

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    I take your point about an arrangement being contractual, but what I am talking about are specific variations. Let me illustrate the point. In order to drive a motor vehicle you must have a drivers licence . Agreed? And of course every state has its own drivers licence. But there is nothing to prevent me from driving in Queensland on a NSW licence, and there is nothing to prevent me from driving in Victoria on a Queensland licence. Of course that is as a visitor. Thus what this implies is a certain universality, because we all share the roads and we all need to be proficient in driving.
    And coming from NSW you would probably know a lot about property law in NSW. But based on my experience there are different ways in which the law may be interpreted, or at least different practices in different states. When I say that Melbourne is a more liberal and permissive city than Perth what I am saying is that this is also reflected in a different set of practices. In other words there is more sensitivity to what a tenants rights might be.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Tim is correct.

    All owners of property have certain rights and those rights are not given up when renting out the property. They are entitled to check their property is being properly maintained.

    If you want privacy you have to buy your own property.

    I can remember renting after a messy breakup and it is not nice being subjected to inspections. I stuck at a job I didn't like so I could get my own property and not have someone else come in and 'judge' how I lived and how I maintained their property.
     
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  7. Paul O'Hara

    Paul O'Hara Member

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    And that's the very point that I am making. The reality is that we cannot all be home owners. Just as there are blacks and whites in society so are there home owners and renters. Hence it behoves an owner to treat a tenant with respect and dignity. I would argue that at the end of the day a tenant has a duty to pay the rent and that this is his fundamental duty. We cannot make assumptions about people because they are black or white or because they are home owners or renters. That's what irritates me about current affairs programs who choose to highlight a minority of tenants who trash their properties. Why don't we hear about the majority of tenants who are decent people and do the right thing. Why? because it doesn't improve the ratings and there is a ghoulish element in society who like to think that every tenant is a potential troublemaker.
     
  8. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

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    If renting from the State Government falls under the Residential Tenancies Act then you will find more information about the rights of entry and frequency of routine inspections here:-
    Privacy and entry rights for rental properties | Department of Commerce

    In summary:
    Rights of entry by the lessor or property manager
    The lessor may enter the premises if:
    • it’s an emergency;
    • routine inspections are to be conducted (not more than four per year) and you have been given seven to 14 days' written notice;
    • your agreement states that rent will be collected at the property;
    • they need to inspect and secure the premises if they suspect the premises have been abandoned – the lessor must use a Form 12: Notice to tenant of abandonment of premises;
    • they need to carry out or inspect necessary repairs or for maintenance of the premises – after giving you at least 72 hours’ written notice;
    • they need to show the premises to prospective tenants in the 21 days before the end of an agreement, and have given you reasonable notice in writing;
    • they need to show the premises to prospective buyers, after giving reasonable notice in writing; or
    • you give your consent at the time.
    Entry can only occur between 8 am – 6 pm on a weekday, 9 am – 5 pm on a Saturday, or any other time agreed between you and the lessor. Providing the lessor has attempted to find a time that does not unduly inconvenience you, given you proper notice and you have not attempted to make alternative arrangements with them, they can use their spare key to gain entry even if you’re not home at the time.


    Here are some other links you may find useful:
    Renting a home | Department of Commerce


    Please bear in mind this is a legal forum for people to post their legal issues. Your personal comments / observations (comparing renters/homeowners to blacks/whites) can be viewed as racisim.
     
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