REIWA President David Airey is reminding WA property investors that the phase-in period for changes to the Residential Tenancies Act officially ended with the start of the 2015-16 Financial Year.

“Two years ago the State Government changed the rules and regulations that apply to security measures for rental properties, and property owners then had two years to make those changes, however time is now up,” Mr Airey said.

Rental properties must now have approved deadlocks or deadbolts on any ground floor, timber entry doors or a metal security screen door of Australian standards matched up with the entry door.

They must also have suitable locks and latches for any windows and a porch light near the front door that can be operated from inside the home.

Mr Airey said security in rental homes is one of the most sought after features for prospective rental tenants.

“It’s wise for property owners not simply to meet the legal requirements, but to take extra steps to ensure that tenants will feel safe and confident that their possessions will be well protected. This can also assist tenants in securing contents insurance,” Mr Airey said.

Property owners who are unsure about the new rules should contact their property managers or the Department of Consumer Protection as penalties may now apply to owners who have not ensured their properties are appropriately secure.

Mr Airey said another reason property owners should ensure their rentals are secure is because of the high rental vacancy rate in Perth.

“Now is not the time for property owners to be careless about the upkeep and presentation of their rental stock because the vacancy rate has jumped in recent months and tenants have a huge amount of choice.

“In metropolitan Perth, there is 50 per cent more rental stock on the market than is usual and the number of properties looking for tenants has passed 8,000. This means that the median rent too has started to soften, dropping by $25 per week on the same time last year,” Mr Airey said.

Perth rents peaked in mid-2013, but have dropped by around 10 per cent since then, wiping $50 per week off the metropolitan median price.

Mr Airey said in Perth’s current rental environment it was critical for property owners to make every effort to ensure their property is clean, well maintained and priced to meet the market.

“If these things are not properly attended to then most prospective tenants won’t even bother going to the home open.

“Given that the soft rental market is set to continue for a while yet, it is in the interests of owners to find, satisfy and secure good long-term tenants to avoid prolonged vacancy periods,” Mr Airey said.