Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 October 2017) . . Page.. 4251 ..
Trading. I look forward to seeing the regulations that will enable schedule 2 in particular to be activated and the reaction of industry and consumer groups to that.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (3.57): I rise today to support the bill. I also support the retrospective commencement of this application in relation to schemes in schedule 1. I understand that the need for retrospectivity is to ensure that any current operators in the marketplace who are offering bond guarantees cannot offer them on a commercial basis until such time as there is appropriate regulation of a standardised contract. This bill will effectively prevent these guarantees being accepted as an alternative to the bond while the government does further work to regulate them.
I am pleased that there is an effort to regulate the operations of the commercial bond guarantors because there is a significant risk that they may become very much like the payday loan scheme and end up being something which is not in fact in the long-term interests of tenants. If it does end up like the payday loan scheme it could well be an example of private operators potentially exploiting the vulnerable. Those who are unable to afford a bond are those who are least able to manage unnecessary payments to a third party in lieu of a bond. This regulation needs to include requirements to keep records of all commercial bond guarantee contracts, including administration and reporting to the Commissioner for Fair Trading.
We already know that people in the ACT pay the second highest rents in the country and that more and more people are entering the rental market as a way of ensuring a roof over their heads. Those who rent in most cases are unable to buy and are then at the mercy of landlords and the rental market. This is why we need a robust Rental Tenancies Act that protects renters’ rights as well as spelling out the obligations of landlords.
I note that when this bill was tabled there was discussion about the rental bond loan scheme, and I reiterate that the scheme should be much more widely publicised to ensure that those who are struggling to accumulate enough money for a bond are able to access a loan through the scheme.
I also support the changes identified in schedule 3 of the bill which will allow electronic lodgement of bonds and allow for them to be lodged without a signature. And I very much hope and assume that this means that it will also enable quicker processing of bonds at the termination of the lease. Delays in refunds can lead to more hardship because, in effect, a person will have for a period two bonds out, not one. For many people that is a considerable imposition.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (4.00): I support this bill in its aim of assisting vulnerable Canberrans. Access to a secure tenancy in the private rental market can provide housing security for individuals and families. Whether you are transitioning from public housing or leaving the family home for the first time, it is not always easy to take that step.