Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 August 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2776 ..
The government’s amendment is consistent with the wording that is currently used in the prescribed residential tenancy agreements. It is the language and the wording used in the existing tenancy agreements, and that was the basis for the words that the government has used, namely, “serious or continuous interference with the quiet enjoyment of a nearby premises by an occupier of the premises”. Dr Foskey is concerned that that provides the capacity for a tenant to be evicted where the behaviour is not serious. I do not think one can say that. The tenancy agreement uses certain language. The language has a certain meaning. There is a proposal that, if quiet enjoyment is seriously and continuously interfered with, then there is a consequence. Consequently the government believes its formulation is appropriate.
Neither the government nor the Residential Tenancy Tribunal or any tribunal will readily utilise this power unless quiet enjoyment is seriously interfered with in the way provided for in the government’s position. We believe that the amendment is simply unnecessary.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.57): The opposition will oppose the amendment. The amendment actually will do absolutely nothing to alleviate situations that occur from time to time when people’s lives are made an absolute misery by neighbours who are causing all sorts of dramas, short of serious damage to premises, or indeed injury. But it is important that the legislation contains a section dealing with serious or continuous interference with the quiet enjoyment of nearby premises by an occupier of the premises. I think is an essential thing to have in here. Yes, as the Chief Minister suggested, it does replicate what is in the agreement and it does make it quite clear that the intention of the legislature is that this is something that is not going to be tolerated.
I have a constituent from Dunlop. For about 15 months this family put up with appalling abuse, threats, loud music, being kept awake at night and their eight year-old daughter being threatened. There was no actual damage or serious damage to the premises and no injury to them. Certainly there was a lot of mental angst. But it was a serious and continuing interference with their quiet enjoyment. I am not quite sure what happened in the end. The people moved on. But certainly it was very difficult—despite attempts by housing, in that instance—for anything to be done in relation to these people, who simply were not prepared to act in a reasonably civilised way and who made the lives of everyone in the neighbourhood an absolute misery.
I think the clause is essential. Thank God there are not many people like that in our community. Ordinary law abiding citizens, be they in large housing complexes or in standalone buildings, should not have to tolerate serious and continuous interference with their proper, normal, quiet enjoyment. This is a sensible clause and I commend the government for putting it in the bill.
Clause 16 agreed to.
At 6.00 pm, in accordance with the standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.