26 September 2023

Changed laws to protect household renters

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Canberra renters are to have more security when leasing a home under plans to reform legislation to remove ‘no cause’ evictions.

Calling for feedback on the draft Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2022, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the Bill also proposed to make it an offence for landlords or agents to solicit rent bids, strengthen minimum standards for rental properties, and ensure it was easy for tenants to grow food at their rental property.

“The bottom line is people deserve a home to live in and shouldn’t be evicted without a legitimate reason,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The ACT Government has committed to end no cause evictions to help address the power imbalance that currently exists between landlords and a tenant,” he said.

“During our community consultation on tenancy reforms later last year, we heard from tenants that removing no-cause evictions will give them better security of tenure and greater confidence to assert other tenancy rights without fearing eviction.”

Mr Rattenbury said that currently, a landlord could terminate a tenancy agreement for no reason by giving a tenant 26 weeks’ notice.

He said under the proposed laws, a landlord would still be able to terminate a tenancy agreement for legitimate reasons (such as failure to pay rent or damaging the property).

“A proposed new termination clause would also allow tenants or landlords to terminate the agreement where one party threatens, harasses, intimidates, or abuses the other party,” the Attorney-General said.

“The proposed reform strikes a careful balance of giving tenants better security of tenure, while also ensuring landlords can continue to manage their properties effectively.”

He said the proposal to prohibit rent bidding would ensure that agents and landlords couldn’t pit renters against each other and raise the rental price.

“That’s not a fair system.”

Mr Rattenbury said the draft Bill also prepared the ACT’s tenancy laws for the introduction of mandatory minimum property standards.

He said landlords would need to disclose if the property met minimum standards when advertising the property, and tenants would gain the right to terminate their tenancy, seek a rent reduction or compensation where minimum standards were not met.

“The first standards will be energy efficiency standards for rental properties, which will require a minimum standard for ceiling insulation,” the Attorney-General said.

“This won’t commence until late 2022 and landlords will be allowed an extensive phase in period to understand the changes and make arrangements.”

He said consultation on the proposed reforms was open until 26 August.

Canberran’s can have their say on the draft Bill at this PS News link.

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