Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 3780..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Jansen and the various tenant groups. I thank Mr Quinton for a couple of very good briefings in relation to this. We went through the four government amendments in some detail before I actually got them. Might I say at this stage that the opposition will be supporting them.
Three of the amendments were initiated by tenancy groups and one by owner groups. Despite the fact that the officials had some concerns, the amendments are not really necessary-except possibly the owner group one-in that the bill may well cover all that anyway. They put back in some words and terminology that various groups would feel a lot happier with, which clarify the particular sections better than the previous wording did. The amendments I finally received bore out exactly what I had been told, so I do not have a problem with them.
There are some improvements in this bill which are worthy of note. Not only do they cover residential tenancies but they also cover caravan parks, boarders, holiday homes and basically all tenancy-type matters. The bill saves people going to the Supreme Court by keeping the matters in the tribunal. That I think is a very good step. It is quicker and cheaper. You would probably get a better decision out of the tribunal than something as airy-fairy as the Supreme Court, which is probably a bit too far up the line for some of this type of stuff. That is a welcome change and is to be commended.
There are a few issues around things like commencement dates in caravan parks which the opposition will be seeking to amend. We have a number of amendments in that regard. My colleague Mrs Burke will also probably be speaking to those amendments. I take the opportunity to thank staff in her office for their assistance in relation to those, especially Dean Logan.
The bill does a number of other things, including the additional provision of allowing owners to retake possession through the tribunal. Owners can retake possession in certain circumstances, but this provision ensures certainty. The opposition will be supporting this bill, but we have amendments. As I have indicated, we have received the government amendments and we will be supporting those as well.
MRS CROSS (9.08): The rights and obligations of short-term occupants including, for example, lodgers and boarders are not recognised under the existing legislation. This bill has merit because it increases the scope of the act to include short-term occupancy agreements and provides minimum standards upon which such agreements can be premised. It also simplifies and adds clarity to the procedural and substantive aspects of the act. On that basis I will be supporting this bill.
MS DUNDAS (9.09): I am pleased to see the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill. With this bill we see something coming out of the review of the Residential Tenancies Act that was started just a couple of months into the term of this Fifth Assembly. Boarders and lodgers are among the most vulnerable members of our community. They are often unemployed or have low-paid and insecure employment. They generally lack the cash reserves that are essential if they are forced to move house at short notice. They lack the cash to find a bond, cash to find often weeks of rent in advance, cleaning costs for the property they are moving out of, plus the money for removal and storage of their possessions.