Page 3671 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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remarks. I believe that homes rebuilt on heritage blocks will still need to comply with the character of their neighbourhoods.

The bill also amends the Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation to ensure that the responsibility for asbestos removal will be clearly with the asbestos removal business rather than with any individual asbestos removal worker. This licensed asbestos removalist company will also be responsible for providing a copy of the certificate in relation to any removal work that is undertaken.

Finally, let me return to the land rent issue because this bill introduces amendments that allow for Mr Fluffy home owners who are eligible for the land rent scheme to buy their block back under the land rent scheme. The land rent scheme is part of the ACT government’s existing affordable housing action plan. The scheme gives people the option of renting land through a land rent lease at a rate of two per cent rather than purchasing the land outright from the government to build a home. It reduces the up-front costs associated with owning a house as lessees will not need to finance the cost of the land, only the costs associated with the construction of the home. It is important to note that this scheme up until now has been for greenfield sites only and it exists only in the ACT. Entrance to the land rent scheme is restricted to low to moderate income households that are eligible.

Eligibility criteria are that the total gross income of the lessee or the lessees must be assessed by the ACT Revenue Office and must not exceed the income threshold of $160,000. Income is calculated on a household basis and the income threshold is increased by $3,330 for each dependent child. The government has introduced this scheme to eligible Mr Fluffy home owners as a compassionate option for affected home owners who otherwise would not be able to finance rebuilding a home on their old block.

It is a tricky issue as all affected home owners who surrender their blocks are being paid for the market value of their house and block. However, we know that there will be some of these home owners who will struggle to find the finance to purchase their old block at market value when it is available again and then also be able to finance construction of a new house. This is a particular problem in the inner suburbs where land values are high, as opposed to greenfield sites, which the land rent scheme was designed for.

I have met with a number of these affected home owners over the past few weeks as I consider the issue in detail. I believe that there are about 15 affected households eligible for the land rent scheme and a few of these people have asked the government to set up this scheme slightly differently so that they can rent land but when they want to convert to purchase their block, rather than continue to rent, they are able to pay out at an unimproved value rather than at market value.

The problem this poses for the government is that the government is paying home owners market value for their block at the time of the buyback; so allowing people to then purchase the block back from the government at unimproved value instead creates the potential for a surplus between the market value the government bought the block for and the unimproved value it would subsequently be purchased for.

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