Page 3712 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017

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provider of a commercial guarantee puts a term into a contract that is not consistent with the registered standard guarantee contract, that term will not have any effect.

The minister is able to make regulations for registration. Regulation-making powers include regulations that set out the grounds for registering or applying a condition to a standard guarantee contract, a matter that must be included in or excluded from a commercial guarantee; record-keeping requirements; any information that must be given to a person before they enter into a standard guarantee contract; and amending, renewing, ending or suspending the registration of a standard guarantee contract. If a regulation requires a commercial guarantee to include a term, that term is taken to be included in the commercial guarantee contract. If a regulation requires a commercial guarantee to exclude a term, that term cannot be included in a commercial guarantee contract.

Schedule 2 will commence on a date set by the minister. This allows the regulations to be developed before applications for registrations can be made. The government will be talking to the industry and the community during this process to make sure that this important area is covered in a way that meets the needs of the community. The restriction on commercial guarantees and the new registration requirement will not impact on informal arrangements between friends and families. Requiring registration of these contracts allows the government to assist both tenants and lessors to understand the benefits and risks of entering into this type of arrangement. By acting now the government can make assessments of schemes before tenants and lessors have entered into contracts.

Schedule 3 of the bill makes changes to the lodgement of bonds. The ACT Revenue Office is developing a new self-service rental bonds management system. At the moment the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 requires signatures on rental bond lodgement forms and that the forms are lodged manually. Manual lodgement and handling cheques is inefficient and expensive.

Other jurisdictions have introduced online self-service for the administration of rental bonds, such as the rental bonds online service in New South Wales. The amendments update the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to support the electronic lodgement of rental bonds and remove the requirement for signatures. Measures will be put in place to ensure that there are alternative options for those who cannot use electronic lodgement. Schedule 3 will commence on a date fixed by the minister.

While the government welcomes innovation, our duty of care is to make sure that consumers understand what they are signing up to. We want to ensure that individuals in search of a home have laws that ensure that their interests are protected. In developing these amendments, the government has sought the expertise of key stakeholders in the rental housing sector. We are also taking the opportunity to review our support for people who might struggle in the rental market.

Low and middle income earners who are able to sustain a tenancy in the private rental market but cannot afford a bond may be eligible for the ACT government’s rental bond loan scheme. The scheme offers up to 90 per cent of the rental bond amount under their tenancy agreement. The bond loans are interest-free and are paid back to

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