Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3941 ..
This bill includes amendments to protect a tenant’s privacy and quiet enjoyment during the sale of the property. It is entirely appropriate that a landlord is permitted to sell their tenanted property, but new limits on access by prospective purchasers will ensure that the burden of that sale will not fall unduly on tenants. The bill also provides options for a tenant to terminate a fixed term tenancy if they should reasonably have been informed about the potential sale prior to entering the fixed term or if the sale of the property has become too onerous. These amendments strike a better balance between the rights of tenants and landlords.
The bill will increase the notice period that a landlord must provide when they or a person with whom the landlord has a close relationship intends to move into the property. The current period—four weeks—is the lowest in the country; by lifting this to eight weeks, the ACT will meet the standard of other jurisdictions.
This bill streamlines and modernises a number of administrative provisions in the act. Most significantly, the bill explicitly states how changes to the act affect existing fixed term and periodic tenancies. This is a major win for tenants, landlords and real estate agents, who will know exactly where they stand when amendments are made to legislation.
Administrative gaps in the legislative framework for referrals to the tribunal from the office for rental bonds are being removed, as are inconsistencies in the tribunal’s power to correct defective notices. Historic powers of the tribunal to make any order necessary to resolve a dispute are being restored, including the power to provide declaratory relief to applicants. This will assist parties who want early resolutions to emerging disputes.
Amendments will also promote consistency in the tribunal’s powers under the act, allowing the tribunal to suspend the operation of its orders and clarifying the matters that the tribunal may consider when making these orders.
The government is responding to the call to do more to help the most vulnerable tenants in our community. This bill will streamline the termination provisions when tenants move into social housing or into aged care. No longer will these groups of tenants be forced to seek hardship orders of the tribunal before making this move.
A reduction in the maximum rent that a landlord may request in advance will make it significantly easier for economically vulnerable people to commence their tenancy. This will make a major difference to tenants who live from pay period to pay period and does not unfairly affect how landlords manage their property.
Not only does this bill strengthen the rights and protections of tenants; the bill also reflects the government’s obligation to protect the legitimate interests of landlords in their investments. The provision that allows a landlord to terminate a tenancy for the tenant’s illegal use of the property will be streamlined to align better with similar provisions in other jurisdictions and to make it clearer for both tenants and landlords. The provision is accompanied by significant safeguards that balance the rights of the tenant with the interests of the landlord. In order to be consistent with the tenant’s