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Draft legislation to improve ACT tenancy laws

Australian Greens

Draft legislation to improve ACT tenancy laws

The ACT Government has released a draft bill on rental reforms in the ACT to give Canberrans more security when leasing a home.

The ACT Government has released for consultation an exposure draft of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2022. The bill proposes laws to remove ‘no cause evictions’, make it an offence for landlords or agents to solicit rent bids, strengthen minimum standards for rental properties, and ensure it is easy for tenants to grow food at their rental property.

“With growing pressure on rental affordability and availability, the ACT Government is modernising tenancy laws to create more secure housing and a fairer rental system for all Canberrans,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said.

“The bottom line is people deserve a home to live in and shouldn’t be evicted without a legitimate reason. The ACT Government has committed to end no cause evictions to help address the power imbalance that currently exists between landlords and a tenant.

“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.”

Currently, a landlord can terminate a tenancy agreement for no reason, by giving a tenant 26 weeks’ notice. Under the new laws, a landlord can still terminate a tenancy agreement for legitimate reasons (such as failure to pay rent, damaging the property etc). 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 proposed reform strikes a careful balance of giving tenants better security of tenure, while also ensuring landlords can continue to manage their properties effectively.”

The draft bill also proposes to prohibit agents or landlords to solicit rent bidding.

“People shouldn’t be encouraged into a price war when they’re searching for a place to rent; this proposal ensures that agents and landlords can’t solicit bids to pit renters against each other and raise the rental price. That’s not a fair system.”

The draft bill also prepares the ACT tenancy laws for the introduction of mandatory minimum property standards.

Under the new laws, landlords will need to disclose if the property meets minimum standards in force, when advertising the property. Tenants will have the right to terminate their tenancy, seek a rent reduction, or seek compensation where minimum standards are not met.

“The first standards will be energy efficiency standards for rental properties, which will require a minimum standard for ceiling insulation. This won’t commence until late 2022 and landlords will be allowed an extensive phase in period to understand the changes and make arrangements.”

The Government will also consider further minimum standards for rental properties in the future.

Consultation on the proposed reforms is open until 26 August 2022, with the exposure draft Bill available for comment and feedback on the ACT Government’s YourSay website.

The exposure draft Bill will also be tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly in early August 2022.

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