Page 4029 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022
on the details of the reforms. Following the public exposure draft consultation, additional targeted consultation with key stakeholders was conducted to further refine the proposed amendments contained in the bill. In many ways, the development of this bill has been a community-wide effort. That is illustrated by the quantity and quality of engagement we have had from our stakeholders throughout the consultation processes undertaken. I would like to take this opportunity to thank community members and key stakeholders who contributed their time and valuable expertise when engaging with these reforms.
The government has heard over a long period of time that the ability of landlords to terminate tenancies without cause has a profoundly negative impact on tenants in the territory. Tenants have argued that the no cause termination clauses undermine housing security, as it means they can be evicted without having breached their tenancy agreement or without being provided any reason whatsoever as to why their tenancy is being ended.
Perhaps more importantly, tenants have also argued that the mere fact that without cause terminations are lawful acts is a disincentive for them to assert their rights, due to the fear they will be evicted. This bill aims to strengthen security of tenure and to give tenants the confidence to assert their rights without having to fear they will be evicted if they do so. Importantly, this bill proposes to remove no cause terminations without introducing end of fixed term tenancy terminations, which are essentially another form of no cause termination.
In Queensland, when the government there introduced no cause evictions, they still allowed no cause evictions for period tenancies. This led to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland recommending that property managers issue every tenant with a notice to leave at the same time as they are offered a new lease, as a way of circumventing the state’s new no grounds eviction laws. We are not doing this in the ACT. We are ending no cause evictions; period. We will be the first and only jurisdiction in Australia to remove all forms of tenancy termination without a cause.
I received correspondence and representations during the consultation on this bill from landlords, including those who were strongly supportive of ending no cause evictions. I also received representations from landlords who expressed concerns about these changes. I remind those landlords that under the existing legislation landlords can still evict tenants for breaching their tenancy agreement, not paying their rent or damaging the property. Landlords can also still evict tenants if they wish to sell, renovate or move into their homes, or for a suite of other reasons.
The bill also introduces a new termination provision where one party to a tenancy agreement threatens, harasses, intimidates or abuses the other party. This provision will allow the impacted party to apply directly to ACAT for a tenancy termination order. Under this change, we will improve tenants’ rights by ending the ability for renters to be arbitrarily evicted from their tenancy properties without a legitimate reason, whilst still enabling landlords to manage their properties effectively under existing and new termination provisions.
In developing the bill the government has also recognised that there are some members of our community who may be disproportionately affected by tenancy