The ACT has released a draft copy of the bill that would remove the power for no-cause evictions — and make it an offence for landlords or agents to solicit rent bids.
The aim of the new laws contained within the exposure draft of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2022 are to give Canberrans more security when leasing a home, according to the ACT government.
REB previously reported that the planned removal of no-cause evictions from Canberran residential tenancy agreements had been met with a mixed response from tenants, landlords, and real estate agents.
Weighing in on the new draft bill, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury noted that the growing pressure on rental affordability and availability in the territory had played a part in the plan to modernise tenancy laws “to create more secure housing and a fairer rental system for all Canberrans”.
The territory government first proposed the reforms in August 2021, which covered no-cause evictions, restrictions on rent bidding, allowing tenants greater freedom to grow food and compost, and setting of clear minimum standards for rental properties.
Community consultation on the plans followed, with the Attorney-General revealing that the government had “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”.
As the ACT laws currently stand, landlords can terminate a tenancy agreement for no reason, by giving a tenant 26 weeks’ notice.
Under the proposed reforms, a landlord is still able to terminate a tenancy agreement for legitimate reasons — such as failure to pay rent or damaging the property.
In this latest announcement, the government has also proposed a new termination clause, which would also allow tenants or landlords to terminate the agreement where one party threatens, harasses, intimidates, or abuses the other party.
According to Minister Rattenbury, “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 from soliciting rent bidding — as the ACT aims to stamp out the encouragement of price wars.
Arguing that such price wars create an unfair system, the Attorney-General said that “this proposal ensures that agents and landlords can’t solicit bids to pit renters against each other and raise the rental price”.
Elsewhere, the reforms, if passed, will introduce mandatory minimum property standards.
These new laws would require that landlords disclose if the property meets minimum standards that are in force, when advertising the property.
It would also provide tenants with the right to terminate their tenancy, seek a rent reduction, or seek compensation where minimum standards are not met.
The first standard to be tested by the reforms will be energy-efficiency standards — and require a minimum standard for ceiling insulation.
According to Minister Rattenbury, this requirement won’t commence until late 2022, with landlords to be provided with an extensive phase-in period to understand the changes and make arrangements.
The ACT government has hinted that it will be considering further minimum standards for rental properties down the track.
Interested parties have until 26 August to make a comment on the proposed reforms, with the exposure draft bill available for comment and feedback on the ACT government’s YourSay website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.