Page 2344 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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Residential Tenancies (Databases) Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.11): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The presentation of this bill today is a move towards strengthening protections to tenants in the ACT. While strengthening protections for tenants, the bill recognises the rights of lessors to protect their private property interests. The Residential Tenancies (Databases) Amendment Bill 2011 aims to strike a fair balance between the rights of lessors and tenants.

The bill omits current part 6A of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and introduces new part 7. New part 7 puts into place model uniform provisions agreed to by consumer affairs ministers of the states, territories and the commonwealth in December last year which regulate tenancy databases.

Most real estate agents in Australia subscribe to at least one tenancy database. Tenancy databases are used by lessors and agents when screening tenancy applicants. Tenancy databases primarily contain comments about tenants relating to breaches or alleged breaches of tenancy agreements by tenants. Listings in tenancy databases can be entered anywhere in Australia and are accessible throughout Australia.

The model provisions are designed to regulate residential tenancy databases and to ensure consistency in how residential tenancy databases are regulated throughout the states and territories. National consistency in the regulation of tenancy databases is intended to not only provide sufficient protection to tenants but also to provide certainty to real estate agents and database operators in their collection, use and storage of tenants’ personal information.

The draft model uniform provisions were released to the general public and to key stakeholders in the ACT in January last year, including the ACT Tenants Union, the Real Estate Institute of the ACT and to my colleague Minister Joy Burch, as the minister responsible for public housing in the ACT. My directorate wrote again to key stakeholders in January this year, including the Tenants Union, the Real Estate Institute of the ACT, Minister Burch and the Law Society, indicating that the government would be considering the final model provisions this year.

Residential tenancy databases need to be regulated for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, tenants whose personal information is stored in a tenancy database can experience difficulties in securing adequate housing. Listings should therefore be for only the most serious breaches of the tenancy agreement, which either

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