Page 527 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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(2) acknowledges:

(a) the work of the ACT Government to improve rights of tenants, including:

(i) capping rent increases;

(ii) strengthening tenants’ rights to have a pet;

(iii) allowing tenants the freedom to make minor modifications to their home;

(iv) providing a fairer method for calculating break lease fees;

(v) lowering upfront costs by limiting the amount of advance rent a landlord can request;

(vi) facilitated share housing arrangements by making it easier to change who is listed on a tenancy agreement while the tenancy agreement continues; and

(vii) raising minimum standards for rental homes;

(b) that the ACT Government has successfully attracted Build to Rent projects that will improve the local rental market; and

(c) that the ACT Government is continuing to progress its commitment to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to end no cause evictions under the Parliamentary and Governance Agreement, and related reforms to better protect tenants; and

(3) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) review the information imbalance that exists between landlords and tenants, and consider whether prospective tenants should be given the right to receive references from landlords’ previous tenants, and report back to the Assembly on this matter during the November 2022 sitting period; and

(b) reaffirm its ongoing commitment to improving the rights of renters in the ACT.

We all know that renting in Canberra is tough right now. Not only do renters have to pay quite a lot of money for their homes; they also have to compete for a property in a very tight rental market. According to the ABS’s 2017-18 survey of income and housing, 34 per cent of the ACT’s households were renting. The latest data I have seen from the ACT government says that there are 52,389 properties subject to land tax in the ACT. As there are 177,560 properties in Canberra, that would put the figure for short-term rentals at roughly 30 per cent—quite a lot of renters. For many Canberrans, particularly in my generation, the dream of owning a home will never become a reality. Young people and low-income earners are coming to terms with the likelihood of renting for the rest of their lives.

The ACT government cannot solve the national housing crisis by itself, but what it can do it should do. Anything we can do to improve the lives of renters is a good thing. Seemingly, despite the fundamental importance of renters to a rental market, their views and needs are freely overlooked. The control of our rental markets lies with investors, developers and landlords, and in a market as tight as Canberra’s, considering the wellbeing of renters is not necessary.

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