A Busselton landowner is calling for stronger eviction laws for landlords, after the discovery of an alleged clandestine drug laboratory at her rental property in West Busselton.
Leslie Harris’ home was the site of a police search warrant last week where a 54-year-old man was charged with attempting to manufacture a prohibited drug.
The alleged offender posted bail after a first appearance at Bunbury’s Magistrate’s Court last Thursday and will reappear in Busselton Magistrate’s Court in March.
Mrs Harris told the Times she felt tenancy laws weighed heavily in favour of tenants and left landowners powerless. She said she had tried to evict the tenants for more than three months after she discovered they were sub-letting the home from the original lessee without permission and had stopped paying rent.
“They were not on the lease and there was a maximum of two people stated, when there were at least four, and neither one could be enforced according to advice (my husband) received, ” she said.
Mrs Harris said the compulsory one-month bond was not enough to cover the costs associated with the eviction process.
“There shouldn’t be a shortfall between the amount of bond and the length taken for an eviction, ” she said. “The bond should cover the amount of time it takes to evict a person.”
The tenants continue to live in Mrs Harris’ property despite last week’s arrest and court mediation in January which ordered they move out on February 7, the day after the police raid.
Mrs Harris said she was not to step onto her own property until a court-appointed bailiff gave an order for possession of the premises. She had not heard from the court when the Times went to press yesterday.
“It’s disheartening as it feels like you have no back up, ” Mrs Harris said.
The landlord said she felt bad for the neighbours and embarrassed they might think the owners had allowed tenants like the occupants to live at the rental home.
Department of Commerce property industries consumer protection director Stephen Meagher said the length of the eviction process could vary and a recent review of the Residential Tenancies Act decided to retain the four-week bond limit, as a higher bond could make housing less affordable.
Mrs Harris said she had raised the issue with Vasse MLA Troy Buswell and hopes he will discuss it with appropriate ministers.