Page 4030 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 30 November 2022
termination. A reasonable and proportionate test for tenancy termination has been included for tenants in public, community or subsidised housing. This means that if the commissioner for housing, or community housing and subsided housing providers, seek to terminate a tenancy on any of the new grounds proposed to be introduced in new schedule 2 to the act, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal will be required to determine whether termination is reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances. This is an important human rights safeguard for those tenants who may have additional vulnerabilities that should rightly be considered before a tenancy is terminated.
Turning to the reforms in relation to rent bidding, as many people are aware, securing a rental property in the current market is becoming increasingly difficult, as demand for rental stock continues to exceed supply. For some prospective tenants, rent bidding has become more commonplace as a tool to assist them in standing out from the rest of the pack. Sometimes prospective tenants offer rent bids voluntarily. However, there may be circumstances where tenants feel pressured into offering rent bids even though doing so may create financial pressure for them. It is the latter situation this bill seeks to address.
To ensure that tenants are not unduly pressured into rent bidding, the bill makes it an offence for landlords or their agents to invite rent bids from prospective tenants. To further support this change, the bill also requires a landlord to advertise a fixed rental rate for the premises. This may either be a single fixed rental rate or several fixed prices to account for any inclusions that may come with the premises, such as a car park, storage cage or furnishings. This change will continue to allow a degree of flexibility for landlords in how they advertise their properties, but it ensures that there is transparency for tenants. It also prevents landlords from indirectly inviting rent bids by offering a price range.
Along with the parliamentary and governing agreement commitment to remove no cause terminations, an additional commitment was to create a presumption that landlords will permit tenants to grow food and to compost in rental properties. This bill meets this commitment and further strengthens tenants’ rights by giving them greater say in how they use the property that they will call home.
This bill makes it easier for tenants to grow food and to compost by clarifying that these activities constitute minor modifications under the act, as long as the tenant does not disturb existing vegetation or plants. This means that a landlord will not be able to refuse consent for these activities without seeking approval from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. In this way, tenants will be supported to make their rental property feel like their home, while landlords will retain some discretion to refuse consent, with appropriate oversight from the tribunal. In the event that any damage is caused to the property, the tenant will be required to make good on such damage at the end of the tenancy, in accordance with the general rules applicable under the act.
The final key reform area in this bill is the inclusion of changes to the act to support the future introduction of minimum housing standards. I recently announced a minimum standard for ceiling insulation for residential tenancies that will be phased in from 1 April next year. The changes proposed in this bill support the effective implementation of the new ceiling insulation standard and any other minimum