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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 571 ..


These amendments have been inspired by many people. First of all, I would like to make special mention of the work that the Tenants Union does and thank Deb Pippen for her decades of advocacy and support for renters. As well, there are all of the members of the Make Renting Fair CBR allies, including of course Unions ACT, the Tenants Union, ACT Shelter and Better Renting. There were also my Victorian Greens colleagues, who have worked extensively on this issue. And finally there are many Canberra tenants who have shared their experiences and, of course, their problems with me.

As I mentioned, I am broadly supportive of Minister Ramsay's bill and will be supporting his amendments. His bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act in a number of ways. These include placing limits on breaking lease fees so that lessors can only recover the actual losses they have sustained in finding a new tenant—and that is only being fair, I have to say; limiting rent increases and placing the onus on the lessors to demonstrate by an ACAT application why a rent increase above the rental component of CPI is warranted; allowing tenants to vacate a property during a fixed term tenancy when 26 weeks notice has been given; creating new definitions of "minor" and "special" modifications; making it easier for tenants to keep pets; and refining some provisions regarding domestic violence and personal protection order provisions to fix issues with the current drafting.

Unfortunately, and despite the rhetoric from the ALP on this issue, Minister Ramsay's bill will not make any practical difference to the current processes that tenants must use when seeking consent for minor, reversible modifications such as putting up picture hooks or anchoring furniture for child safety. Although the new provisions relating to pets are welcome, it is disappointing that the bill allows landlords to apply to ACAT to impose conditions on the keeping of animals and apply these to a property. Apart from this serving to dilute the new provisions regarding keeping of pets, one concern I have is that this is just going to lead to a rush of landlords applying to ACAT for such consent orders.

I now turn to the amendments to Minister Ramsay's bill that I will be tabling today. These strengthen two parts of the bill. Firstly, my amendments clarify and expand the definition of a minor modification to a rental dwelling and amend the bill so that a lessor's consent is not required for minor modifications. Secondly, the Greens' amendments require that any advertisement for the lease of a residential property include notice of any conditions regarding the keeping of animals that have been endorsed by ACAT, as well as any other non-standard terms that will be included in a residential tenancy agreement for a given property.

The Greens' amendments also require that any advertisement for a lease of a residential property include a notice of a lease term that is inconsistent with a standard residential tenancy agreement that has been endorsed by ACAT; establish a process for the development and enforcement of minimum housing standards for rental properties; remove the standard lease terms relating to the termination of tenancy without cause and provide additional grounds for lessors to terminate a tenancy; increase the time limit for tenants to move out of a rental property where it has been sold, from eight weeks to 12 weeks; require lessors to provide tenants with a statutory


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