Rental properties are people’s homes – and renters need to know their rights are protected.
In 2019, we had the best chance in years to improve renters’ rights.
In February, the ACT Assembly debated a raft of renters’ rights reforms. While the reforms that were passed mean that life will get easier for renters in some ways, there’s still a way to go before renters get the deal they deserve.
Let’s start with the good news.
Pets in rental properties
Renters will now be allowed to have pets in their homes—so long as the home is returned to its original state, before the lease ends.
We’re pleased that the ALP got on board with the Greens to realise this important change.
Informing renters of non-standard lease terms
It’s usually only when a renter has been offered a property and is sitting down to sign a lease that they find out if there are any non-standard terms, or special conditions, attached to the lease agreement.
That’s why the Greens introduced an amendment requiring landlords to provide this information to prospective tenants up front. This will avoid tenants applying for a property where there may be special conditions that will not meet their requirements. We are pleased that the major parties have backed this amendment
When your landlord, or their relative, wants to move in
Some Canberra renters had told us of cases where their landlord had ended their tenancy, stating that they wanted to move back in—only for this not to eventuate. Instead, their landlord had used this loophole to end a tenancy quickly.
From today, landlords will need to provide a statutory declaration stating the reason why they are ending a when ending a tenancy if the reason given is that they or a relative, want to move in.
The less than good news.
The major parties today refused to back three major reforms that would have also helped to make life easier for renters: allowing minor modifications like picture hooks, legislating minimum standards for rental properties and ending unfair evictions.
The Greens know how important it is to make a house a home. It’s the little personal touches that are all the difference—hanging your favourite artworks and family photos or putting up a shelf for mementos and books. Today, the major parties voted against a Greens amendment that would have finally given Canberra renters the right to make minor and reversible modifications without having seek their landlord’s permission.
No one deserves to live in a mouldy house where the dishwasher floods the kitchen and the front door won’t lock.
Greens’ MLA Shane Rattenbury started this work back in 2011. Seven years on, and Canberra renters will still go without minimum standards in their rental properties.
Ending unfair evictions
Tenants can be given 26 weeks’ notice that their tenancy will end, and the landlord does not have to provide a reason.
These “no cause” evictions are sometimes used in a retaliatory way: there are numerous reports of tenants being evicted after disputing a rent increase or raising maintenance issues.
We know that this can cause renters to remain in unsafe or unfair housing, rather than bring up these issues.
Today, the major parties refused to back the Greens’ efforts to end this unfair situation.
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