Grow own veg to help environment
■ One of the great things about gardening in Karratha is the opportunity it provides to fill your larder and live more sustainably at the same time.
Growing and producing food locally has a wealth of benefits and the best time to see and enjoy those benefits is during harvest time in spring and early summer.
Gardening is not only considered good for the soul, but also reduces our environmental impact.
While buying WA-grown food is a great idea to support local producers, it is still a long journey from the fields to the shops of Karratha. This journey entails the creation of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and storage requirements of the produce. So, just as it is best to reuse items that are already in Karratha to minimise your environmental footprint, it is also a great idea to try and grow some easy-to-maintain vegetables or fruit in the backyard.
Anything you are successful in growing will reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions which are significantly affecting our global climate. Even better, using greywater or other water-efficient methods for irrigation and boosting your soil using compost gets triple the environmental brownie points and hopefully a more bountiful harvest. Another benefit of growing local is being able to join a community of gardeners keen to share tips and ideas to keep the harvest flowing and try out new varieties and plants. The community garden has helped support the gardeners ofKarratha over the past three years and the huge level of support and interest it has received from the community is testament to its success.
The garden busy bees will start up again in April 2015 so keep your eye out on the Karratha Community Garden Facebook page to join in the gardening action in the new year. When you think of Consumer Protection, you might associate the agency with helping people who have bought products or services, but tenancy is a big part of what we do.
This week, a landlord who spent tenants’ security bonds, harassed a tenant and took too much rent money up front was fined $24,000 after we prosecuted him.
Thirty-seven-year-old Carl Raymond Olsen, of Meekatharra, who owned and leased out a property in High Wycombe between 2013 and 2014, didn’t appear at the Midland Magistrate’s Court on October 27, but was found guilty of 13 contraventions of the Residential Tenancies Act in his absence.
Mr Olsen took bonds from three tenants and failed to deposit the money with the Bond Administrator at the Department of Commerce, as required by law.
Landlords cannot spend money given as security against a rental property.
The funds must be protected by being held in trust and will be returned to the tenant at the end of the rental agreement provided the property is left in an appropriate condition.
Another tenant felt harassed when Mr Olsen would constantly turn up unannounced and uninvited during her tenancy and repeatedly phoned her and sent her texts.
A landlord must respect a tenant’s right to privacy, peace and comfort.
Notice of no less than seven days and no more than 14 days must be given for any routine inspections, which have to be at a reasonable and convenient time, and can only be carried out four times a year.
Even in the case of inspecting necessary repairs, 72 hours written notice is required.
On top of this, Mr Olsen also made tenants pay him four to six weeks rent upfront when a landlord is not legally allowed to take more than two weeks rent in the first two weeks of a tenancy.
This was one of the important changes to the Residential Tenancies Act in July, 2013, to help ease financial pressures when renting a home in WA.
Charges also related to: ■ The use of incorrect forms when putting new tenancy agreements in writing. ■ Not providing receipts for rental payments. ■ Taking six weeks rent as bond money when the bond should be no more than four weeks rent, unless the weekly rent exceeds $1200.
Upon reading this story, other West Australians may realise that a landlord is breaking tenancy law.
I would encourage wronged tenants to lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection.
Online complaints can be submitted via www.commerce.wa.gov.au/ complain or call 1300 30 40 54 to obtain a hard copy.
Landlords can learn about their rights and responsibilities by reviewing Consumer Protection’s webpages and videos, at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/ tenancy.
Max Jones, 9, is harvesting one of the first paw paws of the season.