BY assistant Prof Bruce Baer Arnold
SIMON Corbell has announced the introduction of legislation granting property owners and tenants in the ACT more rights and protections including a broader range of options to respond to domestic violence.
“The Residential Tenancies Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 would help to protect tenants who were experiencing domestic or family violence by providing more options to change their living arrangements and secure the premises where they live,” Simon said.
“The Bill expands the provision allowing a person to apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to vary their rental arrangements where they are the subject of a final domestic violence or personal protection order.
“Specifically, a protected person may now seek an ACAT order to terminate the existing residential tenancy agreement and, potentially, to require the lessor to enter a new agreement with the protected person.
“This recognises that accommodation and potential financial hardship may cause people to hesitate in choosing to leave an abusive relationship.”
“The amendment bill, which incorporates a number of changes, also allows agreements to include a clause allowing tenants the option to break their lease before it expires. A tenant with this agreement who exercises this option must pay a ‘break fee’, which will generally be 4-6 weeks rent.
“These reforms will accommodate fair living arrangements in the territory and build on Canberra’s reputation as the most liveable city in the world.
“These changes will carefully guarantee a fair balance between tenants’ rights and the interests of lessors.
“Under the new law, lessors will now also have a right of entry where they have taken reasonable steps to contact a tenant and believe premises have been abandoned.
“The government is ensuring that we continue a fair balance of rights between tenant and landlord.
“Nearly a third of the territory’s population are renters. This important legislation will have a significant and positive impact on the lives of many Canberrans.”