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Sunday, May 16, 2021
BAL Lawyers
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Rental reforms pass

Reforms to rental laws, passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly last week, will afford renters in Canberra increased protections and rights.

The reforms that were passed will protect renters from excessive rent increases, strengthen renters’ rights to have a pet, enable renters to make minor modifications to their home, and make it easier for renters to break leases without incurring significant costs.

“As more and more people choose to rent in our community, it’s important that we consider their wellbeing by introducing measures to help make their house a home,” ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said.

“The reforms do this by introducing a presumption in favour of tenants keeping pets in their rented properties, unless the tenancy agreement specifically requires landlord consent.”

Mr Ramsay said the changes will mean a landlord can only refuse a tenant’s request to keep a pet if they have prior approval from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

Tenants will be required to obtain landlord approval prior to making any minor modifications, such as painting walls, and will need to restore them to the original condition unless otherwise agreed.

“Tenants will also be better protected against excessive rental increases. If the landlord wants to increase the rent by more than 10% above the rate of inflation, they will need to justify this decision with ACAT, unless the tenant agrees to the increase,” Minister Ramsay said.

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said the changes will give “more rights to renters”.

“[The reforms] also mean that if you’re a tenant and you break a lease, you only have to pay your landlord the actual cost to the landlord. Currently, the situation is you could be asked to pay for months and months of rent, even though where you are renting has already been leased to someone else,” she said.

While the Greens are “very much in favour” of the reforms, Ms Le Couteur said the government “isn’t going far enough”, and said the Greens plan to move a “whole raft of amendments”.

These amendments would include minimum standards for rental properties such as ensuring properties are secure and kitchens and plumbing are in working order, and no-cause evictions.

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