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  7. WA Weekly Legislation Update – 20 to 24 April 2020 (COVID Special)
23 Apr 2020

Updated daily, HHG Legal Group Director, Murray Thornhill and Lawyer,  Fintan Roberts provides a weekly snapshot of new and upcoming legislation.

20200423 WA Legislation Weekly

Welcome to the first edition of our weekly legislation update which aims to provide information on new and upcoming legislation (and/or bills) as they pass, primarily focused on legislation arising as a counter-measure to COVID-19. 


20 to 24 April 2020

The week started with the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 response) Bill 2020 and Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 response) Bill 2020 being passed by both houses (20 April 2020). The Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 response (early termination)) Bill 2020 was also passed in the Legislative Assembly on 20 April 2020.

Residential Tenancies Bill: An Overview

As we know, the National Cabinet announced a moratorium on evictions in response to COVID-19 on 29 March in an attempt to facilitate a reduced risk of eviction of tenants during a time when we are supposed to be snuggled up at home. The Residential Tenancies Bill has been implemented to give effect to that as well as providing other forms of relief for tenants, regulating residential tenancy agreements, long-stay agreements in residential parks and the accommodation agreements for boarders and lodgers. The Bill will apply only for so long as we remain within the ‘emergency period’ which has been initially set at 6 months. The emergency period began on 30 March 2020. Notably, this new bill introduces:

  • Clause 8 – rent not to increase during the emergency period (including notices given after 30 March and before the passing of the bill)
  • Clause 11:  Owner not required to maintain and repair under tenancy agreement if unable to do so during the emergency period (where doing so would cause financial hardship)
  • Clause 14 – giving default notices under tenancy acts for failure to pay rent during the emergency period (owners cannot issue rent default notices unless a rent repayment agreement has been entered into and defaulted (or due to the Commissioner making a decision re: conciliation)
  • Clause 18 – Termination of tenancy agreements arising out of family violence (tenant can still terminate tenant’s interest by notice where there has been family violence)
  • Clause 19 – A tenant may terminate a fixed-term lease early (where the notice of termination is given not less than 21 days before the day on which the agreement ends) and the owner is not entitled to compensation for loss (including loss of rent)
  • Clause 20 – An owner cannot otherwise terminate a residential tenancy agreement unless:
    • A lessor has entered into a contract of sale of the property – in which they can give notice (but there must be more than 30 days notice prior to possession) (s63 residential tenancy act)
    • Where the agreement is frustrated – ie where the premises are destroyed (s69 residential tenancy act)
    • Where the tenant abandons the premises (s60(1)(f) RT Act)
    • Where vacant possession is delivered up pursuant to a written agreement (s60(1)(g) RT Act
    • Every owner dies (s60(1)(i) RT Act.
  • Clause 13 – repossession of property during the emergency period (where property is repossessed by someone whose title is superior to the owners, the tenancy continues and the mortgagee or other person becomes the landlord)
  • New dispute resolution processes.

For more information on the Bill, you can find a copy of it and the EM presented to the legislative council here: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/Bills.nsf/A727F5F4D108F1434825854C000F9512/$File/187-1.pdf and


Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 response) Bill 2020

The Commercial Tenancies (COVID-19 response) Bill 2020 will introduce a range of measures to provide for urgent relief for commercial tenants – these measures largely aimed towards ameliorating the harsh conditions faced by small businesses, by providing certain allowances such as:

  • A 6-month moratorium on termination for certain breaches
  • A freeze on rent increases
  • A prohibition on landlords charging interest on rent in arrears
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms.

You can find the bill here: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/Bills.nsf/ED7097E743C7BC2D4825854C00102B97/$File/186-1.pdf

And EM here:


Commercial Tenancies (early termination) Bill

Just quickly, the Commercial Tenancies (early termination) Bill will confer a right on tenants in severe financial distress caused by COVID-19 to terminate certain commercial leases. The usual ‘break lease costs’ will not apply. The financial hardship must be accompanied by reasonable endeavours to negotiate deferrals or concessions of rent with the landlord. See the Bill presented to and agreed to by the Legislative Assembly here: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament/Bills.nsf/7CDCFDA8EE2BA09C4825854C00139362/$File/188-1.pdf


Financial Sector Reform Act

Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response – Protecting Consumers (2019 Measures)) Act 2020 (Financial Sector Reform Act), which received royal assent on 17 February 2020. This will take effect from 5 April 2021. This new Act will amend Section 15 of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) to clarify that all contracts of insurance subject to that Act will also be subject to the UCT laws (this will of course include such things as car insurance, travel insurance etc) provided they are standard form contracts that are either consumer contracts or small business contracts. Contracts subject to the ICA will only fall within the purview of the UCT regime if entered into on or after 5 April 2021 so we have a bit of time before we start to see the effects (and potential fall-out…) from these changes.


The Financial Sector Reform Act will also introduce new provisions into the ASIC Act specifically addressing contracts subject to the ICA. Some of the effects of these provisions are to:

  • Prevent terms from being unfair if they set the amount of the excess or deductible, provided the term is ‘transparent’ and disclosed before the contract is entered into.
  • A term will be prevented from being unfair to the extent that it describes the ‘main subject matter of the contract’ (with ‘main subject matter’ being defined narrowly to include a description of ‘what is being insured’).
  • Enable ‘third party beneficiaries’, as well as the parties to the insurance contract, to challenge an allegedly unfair term


You can also subscribe to an email update for state government legislative HERE

How can HHG Legal Group assist?

For over 100 years HHG Legal Group has been proudly serving Western Australian families, businesses, governments and individuals and never before has the State seen such a crippling time and we are committed to supporting the communities in which we operate.

Do you require any advice or representation but have been financially affected by the pandemic’s lockdown measure, or are you a worker on CV’s frontline*? HHG Legal Group is committed to helping those in need and those who are looking after the community too and are offering community fee assistance to these two groups. You can send us an enquiry via our online form or call  1800 609 945.

*Frontline includes all medical workers, emergency services, educators and allied health professions.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

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Sitka Pil

"My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

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Jim Goodwin

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Dr Lana Bell

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To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

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Family Law Client

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Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at Mckinley Plowman & Associates

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Richard Beal, Director at BDO

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Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

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Bernice Climie

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Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

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Amanda Williamson

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Kerry Samson

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Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO Altusq Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

"Lisa, thank you so much for representing me in court, honestly, I would not have had the outcome I got without you. Once again, Thank you so much."


"Matthew Lilly was excellent in processing our project. He achieved the excellent result that we required on our project.

We would give Matthew a 5 star rating.

We will definitely commission Matthew for any further projects if we have the need."


"I have had the pleasure of being represented by Ms Lisa Riley. Lisa helped me in December 2020 when I was charged. Lisa was extremely supportive, reassuring, and preserved with her investigation of the laws and was able to save me from a terrible outcome. Another incident occurred in August 2021 in which I sought Lisa’s help. Lisa preserved and was very patient with me. This only got resolved this year. When she advised me that she was leaving her old firm, I insisted that she remain my lawyer, as I had the utmost faith in her. Hence I moved over to HHG. Lisa took no shortcuts in my defence and continued to preserve for the toxicology report that ultimately saved me. She kept me up-to-date with the progress and provided support. Having someone as understanding as Lisa was a huge gift, to me and my family. You have gained a huge asset in Lisa joining your firm.

Thank you, Lisa, forever grateful for your work, and if ever needed, I will be sure to refer to you"


"We can highly recommend HHG Legal Group and particularly Mr Blair Campbell (Special Counsel / Dispute Resolution)

Blair worked with us as we navigated a very difficult third party dispute.

Blair’s expertise, wisdom, and the way he guided us in a very measured and calm manner gave us great encouragement and comfort. Blair helped us to focus on what we needed to and to trust the process.

Blair was always responsive to us, he always got back to us very promptly to answer our questions and to help us to step through some really hard days.

We are very grateful for Blair’s expertise and wisdom along with his empathy and care, this truly made the difference for us."

Wayne and Janice Belcher

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