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ACT cracks down on landlord loophole being used to raise rents

By Juliet Helmke
27 June 2024 | 12 minute read
jo clay shane rattenbury reb q4vwtz

New legislation that has just passed Parliament in the ACT will tighten the territory’s regulation of rental increases.

Currently, rent increases in the ACT are limited by a formula linked to the consumer price index for Canberra rents. New laws in the Housing and Consumer Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 have closed a loophole to prevent landlords from being able to increase rents beyond the current legal limit if elements of the tenancy change, such as a tenant moving to month-to-month, or when a housemate moves out.

While this law was drafted by the ACT government, it mirrors a proposal put forward by Jo Clay, from the Greens, when she introduced a bill seeking a two-year rent freeze in February of this year.

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Also included in the legislation currently before the Legislative Assembly is a proposal to allow victims of domestic violence to end tenancies quickly and without penalty.

And the legislation seeks to streamline rental processes for tenants and landlords in share house situations, by allowing the same condition report prepared for an initial tenancy to be used for subsequent tenancies for the same premises, when at least one of the original tenants will continue leasing the property.

Despite the fact that the legislation does not take up some of the larger measures proposed in her bill, Clay has nonetheless baked the government’s plans, stating that the changes will create “a more efficient and equitable environment for renters, consumers, community groups and businesses”.

In addition to the rental amendments, the bill also included targeted measures to reduce red tape for the business community. The law has aligned the territory’s fundraising rules with those imposed on a national level, removed licensing requirements for recruitment companies, and introduced new fines for businesses and traders who fail to attend scheduled consumer conciliations for low value consumer claims.

The territory’s Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury, said the reforms “demonstrate our commitment to building a stronger, fairer and more compassionate living and working environment for Canberrans”.

He expressed his commitment to ensure the ACT’s reputation as a place with strong renter laws will continue.

“This legislation gives more tenants protection against excessive rent increases. The ACT is the only place in Australia where the law sets clear limits on how much landlords can increase the rent. We’re protecting our most vulnerable and making renting simpler and fairer,” Rattenbury said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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