Page 2348 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022
These tenancy database laws are currently consistent across Australia; however, with the modern trend towards online tenancy application and tenancy management software, it may be that further consideration needs to be given to whether these laws are still fit for purpose.
Another approach to this issue which has been adopted in Victoria is to limit the information that landlords can request from tenants at the time a tenancy application is made. Victoria now prevents landlords from asking certain questions, such as whether the tenant has ever taken legal action against their landlord, requests for bank statements showing transactions made by the prospective tenant, and questions about previous bond claims. It also prevents landlords from requesting sensitive personal information, such as the tenant’s ethnicity, disability status or gender identity.
Another approach could be a standard form tenancy application document. Limiting the information that landlords can request from tenants to only that which is legitimately required to assess suitability could be one way to diminish the information disparity between landlords and tenants.
Accordingly, I have asked the Justice and Community Safety Directorate to consider these possible approaches further to identify the most appropriate and balanced way forward on this issue.
An alternative method of approaching the information imbalance between parties to a residential tenancy is to require mandatory disclosure of certain information by landlords when they offer a property for rent. The Residential Tenancies Act already contains some mandatory disclosure obligations, including disclosure of the energy efficiency report for the property and whether the property is an adaptable dwelling.
The public exposure draft of the bill that I have tabled today progresses additional mandatory disclosure obligations related to whether the property offered for rent complies with minimum standards. These mandatory disclosure requirements provide prospective tenants with additional information to help inform their decision about whether to apply for a particular rental property.
The government will continue to explore issues with current tenancy arrangements, including information imbalances between tenants and landlords, and will consult with the community on any proposed future tenancy reforms.
I would like to finish by noting that the changes to end no-cause tenancy terminations proposed in the exposure draft of the bill that I am tabling today will take a significant step towards addressing the power imbalance between landlords and tenants. In our consultation process last year, tenants told us that one of the most significant reasons they wanted no-cause terminations removed from our tenancy legislation is that the very existence of the no-cause termination provisions causes tenants to self-censor when it comes to asserting their tenancy rights.
Many tenants feel reluctant to request repairs, challenge a proposed rent increase or assert their rights in other ways due to a fear it will lead to a retaliatory eviction through the no-cause termination provision. Removing no-cause terminations will