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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . .

Page.. 559..

Having the affected residential premises register will help in the administration and processes surrounding Mr Fluffy homes in the post buyback period, as well as facilitating the mid to long-term management of premises where owners do not opt into the ACT government's buyback program.

The amendments also provide that the minister may make the affected residential premises register publicly available. Once a property is included on the affected residential premises register, this inclusion will be noted as an administrative interest on the title of the land. Under the Land Titles Act 1925 an "administrative interest" is a decision or notification made under territory legislation that affects a parcel of land. This will appear on the property's title and prospective buyers will have notice of the inclusion of the property on the affected residential premises register.

The new Land Titles Regulation 2015 provides that the minister is an authorised entity. The effect of this is to ensure that the minister tells the registrar-general about inclusions and removals from the affected residential premises register in the same manner as other territory entities are required to notify the registrar-general of other administrative interests.

The bill also amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 in relation to the termination of a tenancy agreement in relation to affected premises. Either a landlord or a tenant may terminate a residential tenancy agreement where the premises are affected premises. These changes will ensure that tenants may terminate a tenancy agreement without penalty where the premises are Mr Fluffy premises. The amendments will also facilitate the surrender of the lease to the territory by permitting a landlord to terminate a tenancy prior to surrender.

There will be safeguards provided to tenants, such as financial assistance through the task force if they are required to relocate at short notice. In addition, the bill ensures that the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has similar jurisdiction to make appropriate orders in relation to the termination of a tenancy in these circumstances.

Further amendments made by the bill facilitate the buyback program through modifying the application of the Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act 2003 to the sale of affected residential units to the territory under the buyback program. While the territory is using a lease surrender mechanism to obtain the majority of affected properties under the buyback program, the surrender mechanism is not suitable to acquire unit titled property. These properties are being purchased by the territory under normal contractual arrangements.

The Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act is designed to reduce the incidence of the practice of gazumping and providing increased levels of consumer protection for both buyers and sellers of residential property. There are a number of requirements of that act that impose a cost on the seller in both monetary and time terms. While the territory would reimburse these costs, the reports would be of limited value to the territory in the context of the buyback program.

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