Page 4617 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018

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Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 (No 2)

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (10.38): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 (No 2) which includes a suite of amendments to make renting better and fairer for tenants. It is fitting that this bill is introduced in the same week as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have launched the government’s housing strategy. Ensuring that people have secure livable and affordable housing is something that requires all of government and all governments to work together, and I am pleased that the ACT government is pulling its weight.

The amendments in this bill recognise that the rental sector is changing. The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics census of population and housing found that 31 per cent of Australian households rented their housing; 26 per cent rented in the private sector. Research has found that the private rental sector is no longer a stop-gap for young people who go on to buy their first home. There are more private renters at midlife, and more private renters are families with children. There are also more long-term renters in the sector who rent properties for more than 10 years.

Everyone in Canberra has a right to make their house a home, and a significant number of people will have their lives improved by this change. This bill represents another step towards helping renters to be secure in their homes and it is a key component of this government’s broader housing strategy. We view housing as an important right and we will continue to work to ensure that everyone is entitled to live securely and fairly.

These amendments make renting fairer by recognising the importance and value of pets, by recognising basic rights to settle into a home through modifications and by ensuring a fair balance of rights between tenants and landlords for ending leases and changes to rental rates.

The changes in this bill are the product of consultation with renters’ rights advocates, including the Tenants Union, and the Real Estate Institute of the ACT. In line with our housing strategy, this bill is fundamentally about stronger protection for tenants. We are committed to ensuring that our laws protect the people who need protection most. But let me turn firstly to the improvements this bill makes to the liveability of rental properties by providing better rules around pets and modifications.

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