Farmers are advised that there is a scam happening at the moment in and around bushfire affected areas, particularly in south Bunbury.
WAFarmers has been advised that farmers are being targeted by unscrupulous people pretending to have lost everything in the Waroona-Harvey fires and asking if they can stay in empty farmhouses. Farmers are then finding out that their new “tenants” are not, in fact, homeless but are in search of free accommodation.
In these situations, ‘squatters rights’ may come into play – meaning that the tenants may not be forcibly removed from the property and utilities cannot be disconnected in an effort to make them move on. This can result in lengthy legal fights.
While we are sure there are genuine fire victims seeking accommodation, we advise members to be aware and vigilant when it comes to helping suspected homeless victims.
We suggest you protect yourself by following some simple guidelines, which may include:
- Verifying that the people have lost their home by calling the police and confirming if they were residents of Yarloop.
- Presenting them with a tenancy agreement which is downloadable here from the Department of Commerce online.
- Requesting a bond of four weeks rent. Most people will still have a job and earning a wage even if they have lost their home. Note that there are special rules about bond money.
WAFarmers seek to protect our farming members and with the assistance of our lawyer (Phil Brunner, Bailiwick Legal), we are looking into this matter further.