Page 3714 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 24 August 2011

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This bill sends the message loud and clear: you assault a police officer in this city at your peril, and the city will impose a serious sentence upon you if you do. Our police do a unique job, a dangerous job and an important job. I am proud on behalf of the Canberra Liberals to bring forward this bill. I commend it to the Assembly.

Residential Tenancies (Minimum Housing Standards) Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.29): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I am pleased to be tabling the Residential Tenancies (Minimum Housing Standards) Amendment Bill 2011. In summary, the purpose of this bill is to insert a new section into the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to create minimum standards for properties subject to tenancy agreements in the ACT. It also creates some specific regulations related to the provisions with the act itself.

As members would be aware, I tabled an exposure draft of this bill back in April, and we have engaged in quite a public consultation process around that draft. That consultation included discussions with or submissions from a range of stakeholder groups including the Real Estate Institute, the Property and Landlords Association, the ACT Tenants Union, ACTCOSS, the Environmental Defender’s Office, Street Law, the YWCA, and ADACAS—the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service.

We also discussed the bill with a range of community councils, and presented it at their meetings, including at Gungahlin, the inner north, the inner south and the Woden Valley. I will return later to some of the many pieces of correspondence we also received from members of the public. Overall, feedback on the bill has been very positive. However, there are obviously some changes as a result of some of those submissions and discussions. I think the whole process has, in fact, demonstrated that developing legislation in conjunction with the community is a powerful thing to do.

Broadly, the purpose of the bill is to set specific minimum standards for energy efficiency and water and then create a requirement for the minister to set other minimum standards in a range of other areas such as security, sanitation and drainage, ventilation and protection from damp. The bill then outlines the process by which a tenant can pursue with their landlord concerns that the standards are not met, including a provision, via the Office of Regulatory Services, to take a dispute to ACAT if necessary.

The final part of the bill outlines exemptions that landlords can seek if they are unable to meet a minimum standard. The bill allows for the minister to create exemptions for classes of premises where the cost of meeting the minimum standard is considered unreasonable.

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