Overview

The Tenancy Advocacy Service offered by MIDLAS aims to provide information, advocacy, referral and support to current and prospective tenants on their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA).

This service is offered to all eligible residential tenants ranging from private and public renters to those suffering primary and secondary homelessness. Our tenant advocates negotiate with property managers (including the Department of Housing) to sustain existing tenancies as well as helping obtain new properties.

We also assist in securing emergency and crisis accommodation for disadvantaged and vulnerable people who are or are at risk of becoming homeless. Our tenant advocates ultimate aim is to empower our clients with the skills needed to take control of their tenancies and prevent the same issues occurring in the future.

Some of the situations our tenant advocates can assist you with include (but are not limited to) tenancy court orders, appealing a government decision, bond disputes, payment plans, breach and termination notices, vacated debt, priority housing, property transfers and negotiation for rent arrears.

Funding

The MIDLAS Tenant Advocacy Service is funded by the Department of Commerce.

Eligibility

Eligibility for MIDLAS Tenancy Service; clients who are residential tenants whether they be renting privately, in public housing or suffering from primary or secondary homelessness: the City of Swan, Shire of Mundaring, Town of Bassendean or the Shire of Kalamunda.

Alternative Formats

MIDLAS makes all documents available in multiple alternative formats and important forms are provided in Easy English versions where appropriate. Please call us on 08.9250 2123 to discuss your needs.

Original Documents

You will need to bring your original documents, rental agreements, bills, bank statements etc. to the interview and we will take a copy. We do not keep any of your original documents on site. Please refer to our Client Service Charter.

Issues

Rent Arrears

Rent arrears can occur for several reasons. The high cost of rent and other essential living expensive has caused many to fall behind in rental payments.

It is important that you as the tenant contact the owner / agent to explain the situation and to organise a payment plan as soon as you realise you are falling or about to fall behind on your rent. This can often avoid the arrears exceeding your ability to get back on track and face more seriously eviction.

Bond Disputes

At the end of a tenancy the owner can make a claim on all or part of the bond paid when the tenancy began. A claim on a bond can be for: unpaid rent, the cost of maintenance required to repair property damage, the cost of having the property cleaned, or water usage.

The owner and tenant can agree to a bond being claimed without a dispute being lodged by completing and signing a bond release form. If a dispute against theowner’s claim on the bond is lodged at the court the owner must provide evidence that they are entitled to put in a claim.

‘Three Strikes’ policy

In May 2011 a new policy was introduced by the Minister of Housing to identify and address antisocial behaviour within the social housing sector. This is now known as the Disruptive Behaviour Management System, or what some would know as the ‘3 Strike Policy’. This policy was formed in response to the growing number of antisocial activities occurring in public housing – particularly drug activity. The policy enabled the Department of Housing to evict tenants if they encountered 3 ‘strikes’, administered through a formal process facilitated by the Department. Since this policy has been introduced MIDLAS has identified an increase in clients accessing our service in fear of eviction and impending homelessness.

Individuals are either threatened with eviction for strikes accrued, or coming to MIDLAS enquiring about what a ‘strike’ is and why they may have been given one. If the client believes that the strikes are unjust or unsubstantiated, a letter is written on behalf of the client disputing the strikes and requesting a full investigation of the case. MIDLAS is also monitoring the evidence provided by the department by ensuring unfair prejudice behaviour in neighbours complaints is not performed especially to indigenous, large families and the CaLD community .

 

Homelessness

Homelessness is something that MIDLAS is well aware of and sensitive to. We understand the three definitions of homelessness to be:

1. Primary Homelessness:
People without conventional accommodation. This may mean ‘sleeping rough’ or squatting.

2. Secondary homelessness:
People who move between temporary accommodation, staying with friends, family, sleeping on the couch or on the floor. This can be known as ‘couch surfing’.

3. Tertiary homelessness:
People who do not have secure accommodation and need to stay in boarding houses, cars or caravans. If you are homeless MIDLAS may be able to help secure short and/or long term housing for you.

Repair & Maintenance

If there are issues with the maintenance of your property, it is crucial that you deal with this matter as soon as possible as property maintenance can also create problems with bond disposal. Often, maintenance is not reported correctly leading to situations where you may be asked to pay for future repairs that may not have been your doing.

Reasons for maintenance issues like this include; the high turnover of agents, where the ingoing and outgoing property condition report is not completed by the same agent; increasing the chance for human error on the final property inspection or where reported maintenance is note noted in writing by the agent.

It is essential that all maintenance is stated on the ingoing property condition report as well as in writing to your agent during the tenancy. The tenant must notify the owner of all maintenance matters within three (3) days. If the owner is refusing to repair the property call MIDLAS for your options and rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987.

Tenant Database

The Tenant Database can also be known as the “tenant blacklist”. The database is a list detailing information about a tenant and their rental history. This information can include breaches, termination notices and court matters alleged by the owner/agent.
The database can be accessed by owners and agents that pay a fee to the database companies. Under the Privacy Act 1988 a tenant can only be listed on the tenant database if they have given permission.

If the tenant disagrees with the information listed they can write to the database company explaining their case and request the information be removed or amended. MIDLAS tenancy advocates can assist you with this process.

Priority Housing

If you are in need of urgent housing you may be eligible for priority housing with the Department of Housing. To be considered for priority housing you must be eligible under the Departments of Housing policy. Contact MIDLAS on 08.9250 2123 to be assessed and to apply.

Services

Advocacy

If you feel overwhelmed and would like help in effectively communicating with government and non-government organisations, a MIDLAS tenant advocate may be able to advocate on your behalf to communicate your situation effectively to achieve the best possible outcome.

Negotiations

Negotiation is the art of friendly persuasion. In order for a Tenancy Advocate to be able to negotiate correctly there needs to be a common interest between both parties. In the case of Tenancy issues it is usually between the Department of Hosing and the tenant. Remember, you have the right to contact the Department of Housing personally, and in a calm and friendly matter, discuss with them the options available to you. A Tenancy Advocate can assist with negotiating.

Court Representation

In situations where you as the tenant feel unable to advocate for yourself, a tenant advocate may represent you with matters that proceed to court.

MIDLAS is committed to engaging and communicating through:

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