Page 957 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Attorney-General. Can the minister advise the Assembly of steps the government is taking to improve consumer protection for people living in rental properties?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. This is a very legitimate concern for many people in our community; it is estimated that up to 90,000 Canberrans live in rental properties at any one time in the ACT. It is a very significant housing option for many people in our community.

Not only here in Canberra but right around the country, we are seeing that there are significant pressures on the housing market, and that has implications for the rental housing market in particular.

Mr Stefaniak: The land tax regime is not marvellous either.

MR CORBELL: I have become concerned about some of the reports that are coming to me about the behaviour of a minority of property owners, landlords and agents when it comes to managing rental tenancy agreements. Of particular concern is the fact that there are continuing reports of tenants being evicted under false pretences simply to increase the rent despite the fact that there is already an existing statutory limitation of no more than one rent increase in every 12-month period.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR CORBELL: It concerns me greatly that those opposite seem to think that there is nothing wrong with this type of behaviour.

Mr Stefaniak: What about the bad tenants?


MR CORBELL: And it concerns me greatly that those opposite are prepared to excuse the behaviour of people who are abusing the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Smyth!

MR CORBELL: I would have thought that those opposite would be greatly concerned if anyone was disadvantaged by an owner of a rental property abusing the provisions of the act and effectively illegally evicting tenants so that rents can be increased beyond the limitation of one increase every 12 months.

These are the sorts of issues that I am concerned about. I am also concerned about issues such as rent auctions and the potential for behind-the-scenes rent bidding. These types of circumstances also place tenants and prospective tenants in an incredibly difficult situation. Again, those opposite seek to diminish and downplay the significance of these issues. Aren’t they interested?

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