Landlords and tenants were the major focus of recommendations put forward by the Select Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic response in their interim report released yesterday, Monday 18 May.
Housing-related issues made up almost one third of the recommendations and included suggestions that the ACT Government:
- Develop a framework for the repayment of any rental arrears accrued during the COVID-19 eviction moratorium;
- Develop a plan to prohibit a lessor or grantor from seeking termination solely on the basis of rent arrears accrued during the period covered by the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Declaration 2020; and
- Create and make available a standard terms and rights document for tenants and landlords to assist them in understanding changes due to COVID-19.
In addition to housing, there were a number of recommendations relating to the hospitality industry, including calls for the ACT Government to require hospitality workers undertake hygiene training specific to COVID-19.
Additional recommendations include that the ACT Government:
- Prepare rules for the reopening of cafes, restaurants and other venues, such as provision of hand sanitiser, distancing between tables, and cleaning of premises; and
- Continue to work with the hospitality and club sector on occupancy arrangements, informed by up-to-date health advice, particularly with a view to reopening venues and increasing employment in the sector.
The Select Committee was established by the Legislative Assembly on 2 April to provide oversight to the ACT Government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Ahead of the first public hearing, Committee Chair, Alistair Coe MLA, said: “All parties in the Assembly came together to ensure that the ACT Government has the powers it needs to address this public health emergency. This Committee has an opportunity to assist in ensuring that those powers are used effectively, that the public is appropriately informed and that community concerns are heard.”
In total, the Select Committee made 24 recommendations drawing on evidence provided to it across seven public hearings, the first of which was held on 9 April.
The full report is available at ACT Legislative Assembly website. The Committee intends to release further interim reports as it receives evidence.