Page 761 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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The bill will allow landlords or tenants in Mr Fluffy houses to terminate a residential tenancy agreement where the premises are affected premises—that is, where they contain Mr Fluffy asbestos and have not been demolished or remediated by the government—outside the usual process governed by the Residential Tenancies Act. Again, given the real health issues that we know accompany the presence of Mr Fluffy, this is an appropriate change. For tenants, it will allow them to leave the property quickly. For landlords, it will facilitate them surrendering the lease to the territory if they want to be part of the buyback program. As Mr Barr noted in his introduction speech, tenants will be provided with assistance through the task force, such as financial assistance if they are required to relocate at short notice. The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has jurisdiction to resolve issues that might arise in these unique termination circumstances.

The bill also exempts the territory from the Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act in relation to the buyback of Mr Fluffy houses. This will remove unnecessary burdens and provision of documents. Many of the required documents relate to the building, which in this case will be demolished. As an example, there is no point doing an energy efficiency rating on a property which is going to be demolished anyway.

Lastly, the bill also amends the Electricity Feed-in (Renewable Energy Premium) Act 2008 to ensure that Mr Fluffy home owners who had solar panels on their houses can either transfer their systems to a new property and maintain the tariff or potentially install a new system at their new premises and continue with their feed-in tariff contract.

It has become clear that there is not a perfect outcome to suit everyone on the transferring of solar, but I think this amendment will ensure that the bulk of people’s needs are being met, with the least cost disadvantage. For people who were able to easily remove their systems and then safely reinstall them on their new properties, the current electricity feed-in tariff legislation would have sufficed, as that scenario is already accounted for in the act, in section 11(2)(b).

The trouble has emerged for either (a) people who cannot safely remove their solar systems from their houses—and this might be because the panels, or more likely the inverters, are wall-mounted on cavity walls affected by loose-fill asbestos—or (b) those whose solar systems do not currently meet safety standards because the standards have been changed and upgraded since their systems were installed.

Changes to standards in the last few years have occurred at a national level and relate to fire ratings on panels, amongst other things. Some people’s panels from their old systems are likely to have met the new standards anyway and can therefore be easily reinstalled, but some people may find that their 2009 panels do not meet the new standards.

There were a few different ways of managing these situations, including whether or not exemptions from the standards could be granted or the systems could be ground-mounted or garage-mounted. But this provision provides another possibly

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