Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 March 2005) . . Page.. 988 ..
certainly not be in a position to be able to support them today until we have had reasonable time to seek further advice. I hope that it will not be brought back on this afternoon but deferred to a date other than today.
MR SPEAKER: Members, conversations are disruptive to members speaking. If you need to converse, could you carry it on in the lobby please.
MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (11.17): Mr Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2005. This is a bill that makes important changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
I would like to highlight the provisions relating to tenancy databases. While it may not be the case so much now, a few years ago it was very difficult to secure rental accommodation in Canberra, and competition was very fierce. I am sure many potential tenants missed out on properties but were given no indication of why.
The reason may well have been past information stored on a tenancy database. Tenancy databases were a significant privacy issue, particularly databases for the use of private lessors only. Private lessors who have access to these databases are afforded substantial information about potential tenants, completely unbeknown to the tenant. Applications can be declined, based on this information, without allowing potential tenants the opportunity to explain their side of the story. Tenants could remain listed for unacceptably long periods of time, where the issue of a tenant defaulting in their youth could come back to haunt them later in life.
Because substantial costs were associated with accessing databases, tenants were at a huge disadvantage, making it difficult to even find out what information had been stored about them on the databases. The information could be incorrect or completely out of date, but tenants have little chance of amending the information. Clause 18, part 6A of the amendment bill, removes these concerns by providing restrictions on public databases. These new provisions give tenants more control over what appears on the databases.
New section 107D outlines the clauses that must be adhered to before a tenant’s personal information is included from a tenancy database. Information must be disclosed to ex-tenants and ex-tenants must be given a reasonable opportunity to review the information before it is included on a tenancy database. Mr Speaker, that is only fair.
The bill also provides for a greater opportunity for ex-tenants to have personal information on a tenancy database corrected or removed if it is unjust or misleading. If this is found to be the case, the Residential Tenancies Tribunal may order a person to pay compensation to a person who has suffered loss or damage by personal information being included on a tenancy database. This provides some assurance to ex-tenants that the information stored would relate to their agreement rather than personal attacks or malicious, vexatious allegations.
The bill also includes a number of amendments to provisions dealing with evictions. My colleagues in the Assembly would be as aware as I am that many complaints from constituents relate to their neighbours. Living beside noisy neighbours, especially those