Renters and housing advocates rally outside parliament to ban no-grounds evictions in WA

A call to ban no-ground evictions in Western Australia has failed to pass through parliament, making the state and the Northern Territory the only jurisdictions in Australia where landlords can evict tenants without a good reason.

Renters and housing advocates took to the steps outside Parliament House in Perth to rally for the change before the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2023 was debated.

The Greens WA were pushing through two amendments, to have no-grounds evictions removed from the Residential Tenancies Act, and a second amendment that would have seen no-grounds evictions removed from state-owned public housing.

But without the Labor government’s support, the bill had no chance of passing.

Speaking at the rally was boxing champion Troy Humbertson, a father of two young children, who was evicted from his home without a good reason.

After agreeing to pay an additional $250 per week in rent, Mr Humberston was evicted for making a complaint.

“My landlord wanted to increase my rent from $650 a week to $900 a week in one increment,” he said.

“Due to a lack of options and my situation with kids I agreed to that.

“After agreeing to that … my landlord asked me if I was good to start paying that sum from February 24, my lease was in place until March 24.

“Because I complained about the increase he told me I better go find somewhere else to live.

“That was pretty hard to deal with.

“It was attempted extortion.”

After he was evicted, Mr Humberston found a room to rent from a woman on Facebook.

Less than one week after moving in, the woman allegedly crept into his bedroom at night for “favours”, with the father finding himself in a vulnerable position.

Mr Humberston said there was no recourse for landlords in WA and that young men and women were being forced to perform sexual acts to avoid being on the streets.

“It is utterly unacceptable,” he said.

Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Wilson Tucker attended the rally after being evicted for no grounds and found himself competing with thousands of people for a handful of properties that were available to rent.

“It is the tightest rental market in the country,” he said.

“I know there are a lot more people out there than me who are in a much more difficult situation, there are families out there who cannot find a home.

“There are people that are showing up to home opens competing with hundreds of people a day for a single property, when you do get that property there is no security or assurance that you can make that property ongoing.”

Mr Tucker said there were 700,000 people renting in WA and Premier Roger Cook must be reminded that political power rests with them, not the real estate lobby.

“No one should live in fear of losing their home at the whim of a landlord. It’s time for our laws to reflect the dignity and rights of all renters,” he said.

“Once again this government has its head in the sand and hasn’t listened to the evidence and has disappointingly sided with property developers and the real estate industry ignoring the renters.”

Speaking in parliament, Minister for Commerce Sue Ellery said the government did not support no-ground evictions because it could prevent investment in WA’s rental market.

She said they were trying to encourage more people that owned short-term rentals in WA to make their properties available on the long-term rental market instead.

South Metropolitan Region MLC Brad Pettit said the parliament should have been part of the solution to this unprecedented rental crisis that had seen the highest rental increases in the country

“You think we would see some pretty robust legislation before us today,” he said.

“Bills like this to fix rent only come before parliament once a decade.

“WA is the last state that still has no-ground evictions for the decade ahead, the only state.”

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